Military Takes Control of Temple's 'iPhone Giveaway'

Two temple-goers claim their iPhone 6 prizes at Wat Ratchaburana's giveaway event in Pitsanulok province, 9 Jan 2015.

PITSANULOK — Fearing fatal stampedes, soldiers have taken control of a temple event in which five free iPhones were given away to local temple-goers.

More than 3,000 people lined up in front of Wat Ratchaburana Temple in Pitsanulok province this morning to participate in the event, which  is a part of a tradition that typically involves monks throwing coins at crowds of temple-goers following major religious ceremonies.

While most temples distribute coins and other humble gifts, Wat Ratchaburana has decided to give away five iPhone 6 Plus devices and banknotes worth 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 baht. The money and winning raffle tickets for the iPhones were put in small bags, which temple staff planned to throw indiscriminately into the crowd. 

However, over 100 military officers arrived at the temple today to take control of the event, instructing monks to hand out the prize bags in an orderly fashion. Worshippers were asked to line up and receive the money bags one by one. 

 Soldiers took control of the giveaway event at Wat Ratchaburana temple in Pitsanulok province, 9 Jan 2015.

A total of 300,000 baht was given away in the money bags, temple staff said. 

Meanwhile, one of the temple-goers reported to the police that her wallet and two mobile phones were stolen while she was waiting in line for the prize bag.

"I only got 5 baht from the giveaway," said the temple-goer, Chantra Phusri, adding that the perpetrator has also stolen her ATM and credit cards.

Police say they are investigating the incident. 

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