THAILAND, November 2, 2022 (Thai PBS World): The Thai cabinet decided on Tuesday to designate the Naga, a traditional serpent in Hindu and Buddhist folklore, as a national emblem in the category of mythological creatures and part of Thailand’s “soft power,” to promote the creative economy, according to Deputy Spokesperson Rachada Dhnadirek. She said that the cabinet hopes that this symbolic designation will encourage Thai people to study the history, cultures and identities of Thailand and drive the creative economy, which will add economic value and generate revenues for the country. She said that the Naga, a semi-divine race of half-human, half-serpent creatures, have been part of Thai culture and way of life for time immemorial, as manifested by the presence of ubiquitous statues and decorations of the supernatural being in art, various religious rituals, temples and traditional festivals.
One event which assures the Naga remains popular is the Naga fireball phenomenon. Each year, at the end of the Buddhist Lent in October, huge crowds gather along both sides of the Mekong River to witness fireballs shooting out of the river and into the sky. Many locals believe these fireballs are released by the Naga from the depths of the river. Rachada said that the National Culture Commission had assigned the Fine Arts Department to draft the prototype image of the Naga which, according to legend, has four families which have interactions with Buddhism, Hinduism and the Monarchy. According to the Ministry of Culture, she said that there are 157 countries worldwide which have mythological creatures in their national iconography.