Devotees in Thailand are turning to life-like dolls thought to bring good luck, as the economy continues to struggle 20 months after a coup. Sharon Reich reports.
It looks like this woman is holding a child, right? Now, get a little closer. That's actually a rubber doll. And it's part of a new trend in Thailand called "Look Thep", or "Child Angel." They're part of a new superstitious trend among many Thai people - that involves carrying, talking and caring for the life-like dolls as if they are real children. People believe the dolls are inhabited by children's spirits and bring good luck and wealth to those who care for them. SOUNDBITE: 17-year old Wilairat Daengsongchroey, saying (Thai): "She gave me a better life. She helped me earn more income from when I earned very little. I've won many lotteries." Some owners have brought their dolls to temples for monks to instill powers in them. This monk says he has blessed more than 30 thousand dolls since las year. SOUNDBITE: 64-year-old Phra Winai Thidtapanyo, a Buddhist monk, saying (Thai): "Before I make the auspicious markings, I ask them what is troubling them that caused them to do this (raise child dolls). After I preach to them and they understand my teachings, I do it as moral support to help them get through (the problem). Since then, people have constantly been coming to me." The prices of the dolls range from $40 to more than $800 U.S. dollars. Some devotees know people think its strange, but as this woman say, she just doesn't care. SOUNDBITE: Natsuda Jantabtim, 45, a beauty salon owner, saying (Thai): "I can see it in other people's eyes. I know some of them must be wondering why I am carrying a doll but I just don't care." And businesses are capitalizing on the doll industry. Air carrier Thai Smile, said it would charge passengers who bring the dolls onboard and would even serve them snacks. Looks like the lucky dolls are living it up.