WATCH | At Wat Chai Mongkrol, a temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand, you can purchase and release animals into the nearby river for the promise of good luck.
Releasing animals from the confines of a cage, or giving them freedom, is a part of the practice of Buddhism. It's a virtue to perform an act of kindness towards an animal, and that good favor will be returned to the doer.
There are temples just like this one all over Thailand. It's believed that each animal is assigned a specific form of luck. Fish are for health, turtles for long life, catfish to aid in competition, and eels for money.
As you release each animal, you're supposed to say a silent prayer or make a silent wish, one that is related to the animal you're releasing.
This ritual does highlight an ethical dilemma, especially for those outside of Thailand or Buddhism. The idea of caging animals in this manner seems contradictory, if animals are so valued in the religion.
There's also the question of where all these animals come from. We asked the vendors who sold them to us - they said they are from a farm. There may be more to the story, but you don't get a lot of answers when you start questioning traditions.
Because to Thais, this is a cherished tradition. It's something they can put their trust in, something to do that makes them feel good. For them, releasing these animals is a very meaningful act.