Offering rituals are being performed in homes, schools and temples across the country. The Supreme Buddhist Patriarch called on Thais to pray for the rescue. Tribal Lisu people sacrifice chickens and pigs. Christians sing the Gospel at the entrance to the cave. Muslims dedicated Friday prayers to the 12 boys.
Chiang Rai (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The search for the football team trapped in the Tham Luang cave, in the northern district of Mae Sai, is in its ninth day.
Helped by better weather conditions, the rescue team announce that divers had reached a raised area today, where they still hope to find the 12 children and their coach alive.
While the whole country is following the situation as it unfolds with bated breath, the physical efforts of the rescuers have been accompanied by a new wave of spirituality.
This morning, several representatives of the Lisu tribal minority (picture 2) went to the entrance to the underground cave, singing and sacrificing chickens and pigs in an offering to the river and the forest spirits, begging for the safe return of the boys.
"We're asking forgiveness for things we've done wrong, asking them (the spirits) to release the children," said Anucha Poorirucha, 44, Lisu village leader from neighbouring province of Pai.
Later a hermit - known in Thai as "reusee" - was seen wrapped in a tiger print cloth standing motionless and silent on a nearby road, as practitioners of the nation's complex and diverse belief systems converge on the cave.
Offerings have been made at homes, schools and temples across the country, whilst the Supreme Patriarch - the head of Buddhist clergy - urged Thais to unite in prayer for the safe return of the team.
The fate of the young boys has also drawn gospel-singing Christians to the rescue site, whilst Muslims across the country were asked to dedicate Friday prayers to the missing footballers.