There is a new trend in Thailand called Luk Thep dolls, also known as “child angels.” The Luk Thep were made popular by celebrities claiming they bring good luck. People purchase lifelike dolls, and take them to monks to invite the soul of a child to reside in the doll. They care for the Luk Theps as if they were real children. They clothe them with nice clothes, take them wherever they go, cradle them, and feed them. The Luk Theps are thought to bring good luck and fortune.
The trend is based on an ancient practice called Kuman Thong. In Kuman Thong, real fetuses were worshiped and treated as real children to aid in the practice of black magic by witch doctors. Though the practice was thought to have died out long ago, a man was caught with six fetuses he intended to sell in 2012.
Thankfully, the Luk Thep may be lifelike, but they are manufactured and bought from a store. Still some businesses in Thailand treat them as real children. Smile Airways allows the doll to sit in a seat like a real child, as long as they have a ticket. The Luk Thep aren’t allowed to sit in the exit seats, and they must buckle their seat belts on take off and landing. The airline also serves the dolls snacks and drinks on the flights.
A buffet restaurant in Bangkok called Neta Grill also treats the Luk Thep as real children. They allow the doll to purchase a meal at the child rate, as long as any food they get is eaten.
Luk Thep are popular with many people in Thailand, but the Commissioner of the Royal Thai Police has concerns that the dolls will be used as drug mules by drug traffickers. He has ordered all police officers in the country to inspect the Luk Thep when they see them.
Many people claim that the dolls have brought them good luck and fortune, and post pictures of themselves with the Luk Thep and stories about what the doll did for them. Some of the things attributed to the Luk Thep are winning the lottery and getting a better job.