November 22, 2018 / 5:11 AM / 23 days ago

Thais pray they're barking up the right tree looking for lottery luck

A man rubs an ancient bark tree, as he looks for lottery lucky numbers at Wat Kunnatri Ruttharam temple in Bangkok, Thailand November 1, 2018. Picture taken November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Superstition and looking for luck are a part of daily life in Thailand. In one temple in central Bangkok, visitors hope to find it hidden in the bark of an ancient tree.

Hundreds flock to the Kunnatri Ruttharam temple every week to pay respects to the enormous dead tree trunk, which is draped in flowers and offerings from worshippers who believe rubbing its bark can reveal winning lottery numbers.

The state-run lottery business is booming in the kingdom, with ticket vendors on almost every street corner and buyers poring over numerology charts to pick the luckiest sequence.

The state lottery contributed 40.8 billion baht ($1.24 billion) to government revenue in 2018, according to data, the highest of any state-owned enterprise and more than double that of the state energy company PTT Pcl.

One lucky worshipper believes he won 70,000 baht ($2,122.50) thanks to the tree and said it has brought him luck before.

“I have won minor prizes before from this tree, I think when I am in tough spots the tree helps me,” Pakapon Chummano, 54, said.

People have a variety of techniques for finding lucky lottery numbers, including visiting spirit mediums, praying to holy relics, or dropping candle wax on water at temples or other holy sites.

Lottery winnings are announced twice a month and the Government Lottery office estimates it sells an average of 90 million tickets per round in a country of almost 70 million people.

($1 = 32.9800 baht)

Additional reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Paul Tait

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