'Thailand's Got Talent' crew apologise for 'disrespecting spirits'

The opening sequences showed host Na Nuke, a popular comedian, standing on a sacred spot at a northern Thai temple where locals believe the Buddha left a footprint. — Reuters pic
The opening sequences showed host Na Nuke, a popular comedian, standing on a sacred spot at a northern Thai temple where locals believe the Buddha left a footprint. — Reuters pic

BANGKOK, June 16 — The makers of a Thai reality television show have held an apologetic mountaintop prayer ritual after viewers accused them of angering sacred spirits during their last episode.

"Thailand's Got Talent", which is based on the hugely successful British franchise, found itself in hot water after an episode aired Friday.

The opening sequences showed host Na Nuke, a popular comedian, standing on a sacred spot at a northern Thai temple where locals believe the Buddha left a footprint.

In Thai culture feet are the least sacred part of the body and great offence can be caused by standing on something considered holy.

As criticism built Na Nuke and show producers rushed back to the Wat Chalermprakiat on a mountain in Lampang province on Sunday to conduct a prayer ritual apologising for the gaffe.

"It disrespected the sacred spirits. So we needed to go to the sacred spirits to apologise, that was the right thing to do," Amaraporn Sangtong, a spokeswoman for Workpoint Entertainment, which owns the rights to the talent contest told AFP today.

Amaraporn said producers were not aware the spot was considered sacred when they shot the footage months ago.

"We wanted to show a Thailand tourist attraction, there were no other bad intentions at all," she said.

Wat Chalermprakiat is made up of a series of stupas and shrines perched precariously on a picturesque mountain ridge.

Although there is no historical evidence the Buddha visited Thailand, locals believe he left a footprint on the mountainside.

Thailand is a deeply superstitious country where Buddhism is blended with Animism and local traditions.

Friday's slip-up is not the first time "Thailand's Got Talent" has caused controversy.

In 2012 the show's producers were fined by TV regulators for airing an episode in which a contestant used her breasts to paint a picture.

In Malaysia, meanwhile, four western tourists were held for three days last week for stripping naked on Mount Kinabalu, an act some locals say angered tribal spirits and caused a deadly earthquake. — AFP

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