Camadevi Worship : Legend Reproduction and Social Space Construction

Warisara Anantaro




Recently in Thailand, the story of Queen Camadevi has been revived and remembered in several provinces. Queen Camadevi, who is a legendary heroine, ruled the Haripunjaya Kingdom during the 7th-8th centuries, and some provinces regularly observe “Camadevi worship” ceremony today. Historically, Thai people have recognized Queen Camadevi as the Queen of Haripunjaya, an ancient kingdom situated in Lamphun province in northern Thailand. Interestingly, only a few years ago, there has been a phenomenon of several other provinces also beginning to hold “Camadevi Worship” ceremonies, namely Chiang Mai, Phrae, Nan and even Lopburi in central Thailand. The local people living in these provinces explain that their province also has a unique relationship with the queen and are mentioned in the Camadevi Chronicle, particularly regarding Queen Camadevi’s journey from Lopburi to rule the Haripunjaya Kingdom in Lamphun.


This research aims to study the reproduction of the Camadevi legend to construct “Camadevi Worship” ceremonies in the context of contemporary Thai society. It will analyze the thinking process underlying the construction of the ceremonies, as well as how social space is created through the “Camadevi Worship” ceremony. Primary research findings reveal that the construction of a “Camadevi Worship” Ceremony in each province has undergone a similar thinking process – that is, by selecting a certain part of the Camadevi Chronicle that mentions the names of the communities visited by Queen Camadevi along the journey to the Haripunjaya Kingdom. A “Camadevi Worship” ceremony is then considered as a means to create “social space” for each mentioned community, thus making the space become more sacred and more socially important. This also has made the people well aware of their shared memory relating to Queen Camadevi. In addition, the “Camadevi Worship” ceremony has helped create a sense of pride for the people as being “descendants” of an old community with a strong identity with Queen Camadevi, a legendary heroic leader.


(Published in Rian Thai: International Journal of Thai Studies, Volume 10/2017 (Number 2), Page 141-164)


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