BANGKOK — Thailand’s military government turned to supernatural forces yesterday in an effort to stave off the annual droughts that occur during Thailand’s dry season.
Chavalit Chookajorn, Permanent Secretary of Agriculture and Cooperatives, presided over a traditional Thai ceremony asking Phra Pirun – the god of rain in Hindu beliefs – to bless the Kingdom with rain.
The Secretary was assisted by Sorajja Nual-yu, a well-known astrologer who styles himself as “Thailand’s Nostradamus.”
Speaking to reporters today, Chavalit said Sorajja, who used to work at the Ministry of Agriculture, warned that a severe drought is imminent.
“Brother Chui has the sixth sense,” Chavalit said, referring to Sorajja by his nickname. “He told me that there will certainly be a drought this year. So he wanted the Ministry to conduct a ceremony to ask for rain.”
Thailand experiences droughts every year during dry season, which lasts from November to April.
“Personally, I think it’s a good thing,” Chavalit said, in reference to the ceremony. “It’s not a superstition. It doesn’t hurt if we do the ceremony. It’s about finding something your spirit can hold on to.”
Many Thais are deeply superstitious and draw upon astrology, feng shui, and other spiritual beliefs to guide their daily lives. It is common practice for government officials and leading politicians to consult personal astrologers.
Sorajja previously predicted that a major earthquake would strike Thailand some time before “12 July.” His prediction earned him a rebuke from a government spokesperson who asked astrologers not to cause panic among the public.
Meanwhile, Lertchai Sri-anand, a director of the Royal Irrigation Department, said farmers in the lower part of the Chao Praya River plain are suffering from water shortages because those in the upper plain are diverting the water for their own use.
“I have to admit that the Department is facing problems in water management for agriculture, because farmers in the upper part of the river worried that this year’s water level will be low, and drought may be coming, and there won’t be enough water for agriculture, so they pump the water into their own ponds,” Lertchai said.
He insisted that sufficient water is being stored in many reservoirs to meet farmers’ needs throughout the country, and asked farmers not to worry.