May 10, 2022
Police officers in a remote area of Thailand recently removed an elderly cult leader from a makeshift temple after the daughter of one of the members reported the group to a social media celebrity, Jeeraphan Phetkhao (aka. Dr. Pla), who is known for investigating exploitative religious figures and coordinating their arrests.
The daughter, a 53 year old woman who has been named in the media as Khun Jenjira, said her eighty year old mother had been lured into the cult and brainwashed by its leader and had been told that drinking the leader’s concoctions would cure all disease. The elderly woman’s daughter visited the compound in person after her mother had been a member for around a year. When she arrived, she was horrified to find her eighty year old mother eating the leaders dead skin flakes and moisturizing with his saliva and phlegm.
Khun Jenjira provided a statement about what she saw when visiting her mother, saying:
“I went to visit my mother and I saw how women were forced to follow a dress code by wearing a knee-length sarong and men had to wear formal trousers.
Everybody had to remove their shoes before entering the site. But what was even more shocking was that I watched my mother rub the leader’s phlegm on her face and ate the man’s scurf. There were eleven dead bodies of the devotees on the premises. My mother had also instructed me to leave her body in the same place.”
After authorities were tipped off, they determined that the group were violating both land encroachment and Covid-19 restriction laws and raided the small compound. The followers were purportedly told that they would be immune to catching the Covid-19 virus as long as they followed their leaders teachings.
Seventy five year old Thawee Nanra was ripped from the jungle of Chaiyaphum province, Isan in north-eastern Thailand, and arrested by police for encroaching on public land as well as violating disease control laws that prohibited holding gatherings during the pandemic. Nanra’s home served as a temple to the group and is specifically located at Ban Kut Kaen in tambon Dong Klang of the Khon San district.
Although his followers resisted police presence at the cult’s headquarters deep in the jungle, Nanra was taken by authorities after the discovery of eleven bodies at the site. The bodies were positioned in coffins throughout the house and the group possessed only five death certificates, with the cause of death for the remaining six unknown. Police stated that they will likely charge the cult leader with charges relating to unlawful body disposal.
When questioned about the bodies, the followers claimed that the corpses were brought to their temple so they could perform rituals that would allow them to ascend to heaven.
The followers claimed that the bodies were odourless, only sometimes smelling like Jasmine. They explained that followers would wash their faces in lymphatic fluid drained from the corpses as a cure-all, and said the coffins had holes drilled into them so these fluids could be collected.
Although their practices were hidden, locals in the area were aware of the group, whom they viewed as a religious group. They were aware of rumours that Nanra's followers consumed his bodily fluids, including urine, feces, mucus, and dead skin, as a cure for disease.
When questioned, Nanra, who was also addressed as Natee, Joseph and father, said he had never forced his followers to consume his various bodily fluids, however, they did so because they believed that he had magical powers and healing properties.
News of Thawee Nanra’s arrest caused the hashtag #พระบิดา (translating as #father) to trend in the Thai social media world. Nanra was referred to as “father” by his devotees. Clips featuring those believed to be members of the cult have been circulating online with one clip in particular purportedly featuring a female cult member explaining that Thawee Nanra’s feces, which she allegedly consumed, was odourless and that odour “could only be detected by a corrupt mind.”
Kraisorn Kongchalad, governor of the province, said of the news: “It is quite disturbing to see that there are people who believe in such superstition, but this is not only about a personal belief anymore. We have dead bodies, and we will have to work with all agencies to establish facts surrounding these individuals." He added that the so-called healing practices of the group, which included consuming Thawee Nanra’s feces and using his phlegm as a lotion, were “disgusting and unacceptable.”
Thawee Nanra was lead from his home shirtless and skinny, a long white beard hanging from his chin. It is believed that he led the cult for around four years before being discovered due to the remote location of his home. Although the leader said that members were free to leave whenever they wanted to, various reports online allege that this was not the case. It has also been alleged that the bodies found on the property are that of deceased members.
Police are waiting to receive the autopsy results back pertaining to the bodies found on the property before deciding what charges will be brought against Nanra. At the time of writing he has been charged for trespassing, however, a full investigation into his group and their practices is expected to be launched.
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