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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Chinese God of Wealth Becomes Unlikely Meme on Thai Internet


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BANGKOK — Consumerism, K-pop, social media, celebrity power, and superstition come together in the latest craze on Thai internet right now.

The Chinese god of wealth Caishen, or Chai Sing Ia as Thais call him, have taken over Thailand’s social media feed and mobile phone screens on Thursday. Some do so out of belief that the Taoist deity will bring them prosperity, while others do it for the lolz.

“I don’t believe in this. You need to work to get money,” says the first comment. The second says, “People these days are so superstitious, what a shame. I feel sorry for our country.” Both have Caishen profile pics.

It all started when fans of Lalisa “Lisa” Manoban of K-pop band Blackpink recently spotted an old photo of her holding up her phone with a Caisen background in a Snapchat. Chinese actor Xiao Zhan was also seen using the background.

But what catapulted the trend to the mainstream, beyond fans of these two, was a viral tweet by @Honey_beigr, who tweeted on Monday that she’s gained much personal wealth since using the photo. The tweet has been retweeted more than 13,000 times.

“Let me repeat that since I changed my display picture to this image, lots of money has been really flowing to me,” it said. “No more being a poor freelance who slaps mosquitoes while waiting for assignments. Thank you to this Chinese god and Lisa for letting me know about this image.”

Many social media users, especially online shopkeepers, then changed their phone backgrounds and profile photos. Some people even claim to have had more customers after the change.

Supermarket chain Tops also posted a soy sauce ad based on the meme. A barbecue place flat out used him in an ad on their social media as well.

And it didn’t take long before politics finds its way into the trend. Someone obviously aimed for a wealth of laughs by photoshopping Caishen with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan’s face.

A media report said Gen. Prawit himself was quite “perplexed” when a reporter showed the image to him.

Prior the meme’s outbreak, Caishen was already a familiar sight for Thais of Chinese descent. He is the first deity the faithful give a table of offerings to during the Chinese New Year, when he reportedly ascends from heaven for one day. The offerings should include fruits, jay vegan food, and financial-related items such as bank pass books and wallets.

Caishen supposedly “arrives” at each house in a different compass direction every year, so the faithful must give offerings facing that direction during 11pm the night before to 1am of the first day of Chinese New Year.

“My family pray to him every year,  so seeing him become a meme made me surprised, and is a bit funny too,” a popular Facebook page admin wrote in a post.

Anyway, here’s what you came for: a downloadable image of Caishen. Heng heng heng!

Want to join the trend, but still be a bit different? Twitter users are creating more modern, aesthetic versions of Caishen’s likeness for phone wallpapers as well.


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