Occupation: Restaurant Owner
Residence: New York
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language: Thai (laotian)
Other Language(s): English
The following informant is a 61-year-old Thai immigrant who heard the following story growing up as a kid in the Issan region of Thailand.The informant is performing the piece from memory to me, her son. This interview was carried out in a mix of Thai and English. In this I will be denoted as C and the informant will be denoted as U
“Prince Toad and Fireworks”
U: This story is also from where I’m from in Issan. Do you know what toads are? They’re kind of like frogs that have bumps on them. In this one country in Issan there is, uh, a queen in the country who gave birth to a prince who’s skin was yellow like turmeric. And had skins just like a toad. Because of this everyone called him Prince Toad. Once the prince grew up he wanted to have a beautiful wife. So he asked for a blessing from an Indra. A similarity would be Jesus with the Greeks or something. What do they have in Greek myth?
U: So he prays to the Indra who is like the Zeus of Thailand. And Indra creates a castle and a beautiful wife. The Indra also removes Price Toad’s skin turning him into a handsome young man.
C: Why? Why did the Indra do this?
U: The Indra did it because he prayed.
C: And the Indra just gave it to him?
U: Its because Prince Toad prays, “Because of all the good karma and goodwill that I’ve accumulated over my life and my many lives before this, please Indra help me have a beautiful wife.”
And the Indra granted his wishes by giving him a castle and beautiful wife. The King hears this and is happy with the Prince and lets him become the new king. The new king has a good sense of how to rule and takes care of his kingdom very well until small countries come asking to become colonies of the new king’s country. Beside Indra there are also Mara. Which are another god, bad boy gods that live in the earth. The Mara sees that the Prince Toad is so great and people just give offerings to him and there are no offerings for the Maya. Now the Maya is angry and orders a water dragon, which is like a big snake, which is the god of water and responsible for rain. The Maya orders the water dragon to not send rain to Price Toad’s country. This makes it so there is no rain. Now the people in his country get worried because there is no rain and go talk to Prince Toad who is now the king. Prince Toad sets up an army made up of animals, it has ants, bees, termites, and scorpions, all the animals and takes his army to fight the Mara. He orders his ants to take the Mara’s weapons before the fight and the termites to chew though all of the Mara’s wooden weapons. So when they go fight the Mara has no weapons. When the Mara tries to use special spells instead to fight them it gets drowned out by the frogs, the cicadas, the chickens, and the snake. Making it impossible for the Mara to chant a spell.
The Mara tries to fight by making snakes manifest to kill the frogs and the other small animals. Prince Toad then transforms the rainbows in eagles and orders them to catch and eat the snakes that the Mara is making. And the bees and the scorpions bite the Mara until he gives. The Prince negotiates with the Mara to make sure that it rains every year and that the Mara cannot order the water dragon to not make it rain. And any year if the Mara pretends that he forgot the Prince Toad will tell the people in the village to shoot fireworks into the sky to remind the Mara to not forget to make it rain. That is why every year they light fireworks in Issan to make sure that it will rain.
Analysis: I find it interesting how the themes of karma and reincarnation also play a role in the story. I also think it is interesting how the informant compares Greek mythology and Thai mythology.
Annotation: Another version of the story can be found here: