Four fingernails from the body of the revered monk Luang Phor Hong were stolen, and so far one fingernail has been returned. The corpse of the Isaan monk, who died at age 97 back in 2014, is kept in a glass coffin which is opened only once a year for an annual robe-changing ceremony at Wat Phetchaburi temple in Surin, northeast Thailand. Three of his fingernails are still missing and the temple has asked for them to be returned.
On Saturday, Wat Phetchaburi held an annual robe-changing ceremony for Luang Phor Hong, which was attended by a large number of his disciples from all over the country. No one noticed the missing nails until the day after when a man posted a picture of a fingernail on Facebook, saying he had come into possession of Luang Phor Hong’s fingernail.
A physical examination conducted by the abbot of the temple, the temple committee, Thung Mon cemetery committee and Surin police officers revealed that four of the monk’s fingernails were missing. His three middle fingernails were missing from his left hand and the middle fingernail was missing from his right hand.
Suchart, who posted the picture on Facebook, said the fingernail was given to him by a friend. His friend visited him on Sunday and saw him hanging up a first-generation Luang Phor Hong amulet containing a picture, strands of the monk’s hair, and a piece of his robes. The friend asked if he would exchange the amulet for Luang Phor Hong’s fingernail, which Suchart agreed to.
The friend said he got the fingernail the day before at Luang Phor Hong’s robe-changing ceremony. Apparently, the friend wiped the monk’s hand with a cotton ball and the nail attached to it and came off. Suchart’s friends rang him on Monday, telling him to return the fingernail to the temple because not only was he breaking the law, but taking a revered monk’s fingernail is an inappropriate thing to do. Suchart returned the nail to the temple and apologised to the temple’s abbot and to the monk’s students, explaining that he only took the nail out of ignorance.
The whereabouts of the remaining three nails are unknown and it is unclear whether all the nails were stolen at the same time or if some were stolen in the past. Committee member Chaiyut Limwattanakul, with tears in his eyes, told reporters “I didn’t think something like this would happen.”
“We hold a ceremony to change Luang Phor Hong’s robes every year. The temple committee asks, whoever took the nails, please return them. We also ask the authorities to take as much legal action as possible.”
Today, the temple conducted a ceremony to re-attach the right-hand middle fingernail.
It is rumoured that Luang Phor Hong possessed supernatural powers. He was born on March 5, 1917 and died aged 97 on March 5 2014. During the war in Cambodia, a bomb was dropped onto a village where the monk was staying, but failed to detonate, which people attributed to the monk’s powers. Apparently, Luang Phor Hong studied sorcery and could communicate with snakes, rats and scorpions.
When the monk got old, his eyesight deteriorated. When a snake spat venom into his eye, not only was Luang Phor Hong unharmed, but the incident restored his vision, apparently. Such accounts are believed by many Buddhists and perhaps explain why people are after his fingernails, which could be made into amulets and sold for a high price.