Thai Police Search for 3 Monks After 18-Year-Old Woman Dies of Seizure in 'Holy Water' Exorcism

A Thai Buddhist monk sprinkles holy water during a blessing ceremony prior to a cleanup of Government House Friday, Dec. 19, 2008, in Bangkok, Thailand.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Police in Thailand have launched a manhunt for three monks after an 18-year-old woman died, allegedly following an exorcism to banish a “black magic curse.” The monks allegedly forced the woman to drink two large bowls of “holy water.”

The cause of the girl’s death remains a mystery, as the girl’s body has already been cremated. The monks also reportedly removed any traces of the so-called holy water.

The monks reportedly carried out the exorcism last Sunday. During the ritual, the girl vomited and went into shock. She was taken to Krang Khro Hospital, and then rushed to the better-equipped Chaiyaphum Hospital. At the second hospital, she was pronounced dead from a violent seizure that had deprived her brain of oxygen, Thailand’s The Nation reported.

The girl’s parents, 48-year-old Khan Cherdjorhor and 38-year-old Doungjuit Khanakho, filed a police report on Tuesday, bringing the case to national attention.

Cherdjorhor said they regretted believing one of the monks, a visitor to the village residing at an abandoned temple who had told them that their daughter was cursed and had to undergo a ritual. This monk had only appeared on March 18.

The woman’s father reported that before the ritual, his daughter appeared fine and did not display any symptoms of sickness.

When the monks fled the temple, they left no samples of the “holy water,” which could have been tested for toxins. The girl’s body was cremated without an autopsy, leaving the case hanging on the police’s ability to track down and question the monks.

A police official warned people not to participate in strange rituals, especially involving eating or drinking anything of unknown origin.

The family reportedly held the girl’s cremation ceremony on Wednesday, following a local tradition of cremation after a maximum three-day funeral prayer.

The father said the monk who had performed the ritual had insisted that the holy water did not contain anything that could have harmed the girl. That monk later said the “holy water” could not have been a factor in her death.

The monks in question also reportedly told the father they would accept the blame for his daughter’s death, but then they disappeared from the temple. The father described one monk as elderly, and the other two as middle-aged.

While The Nation did not specify the religion of the monks, their residence in a local temple suggests they fit into the religion of Theravada Buddhism, the state religion in Thailand, practiced by the vast majority of the people.

Exorcism may not be a common practice in most of Buddhism, but Tibetan Buddhists and Japanese Buddhists do indeed practice rites to cast out demons, according to the New World Encyclopedia.

Different religions have different rules for exorcism. In most cases, Buddhist exorcisms involve Buddhism taking over a culture in which demon possession and exorcism were already established traditions.