What is a spirit house?
Though Thai people claim that their country is a “Buddhist country”, there are Brahmin-Hindu practices everywhere. Erecting a spirit house is one of them. According to a belief, every place has a guardian spirit that protects the tenants from ill-fortune and harm. Before laying a foundation for a house, a spirit shrine must first be erected to bless the area with protection and good fortune. Most of the time, a Brahman is called upon to pick an auspicious date, time, and location to enshrine a guardian spirit.
A spirit house looks like a small concrete/wooden temple standing on a single column. It is often placed at a corner outside one’s household or near a fence. Garlands, flowers, and food are common tributes offered on auspicious days such as Buddhist holy days or one’s birthday as an exchange for a protection of a guardian spirit.
What to do with it?
You don’t have to pay respect to a shrine every time you see one. But according to the belief, if there’s a spirit house in the area of a house, you should mind your manner when in the area no matter what your religion is. Doing so is respecting the house owner, as well as his/her family and property. Respect is always basic in Thai and many other cultures.
If you are a long-term tenant of a house or any kind of building, you may offer flowers and food to the shrine to ask for a blissful stay and good fortune from time to time. Nobody really knows if it helps or not, but it can be a reinforcement that uplifts your spirit.
Did you know?
According to many Thai people’s supernatural experiences, guardian spirits have a power to keep away begrudging spirits that follow and haunt from entering their houses. Those who are cursed with black magic are also protected within houses that have the shrines.
David Beckham, a former superstar soccer player bought 4 spirit houses back home when he visited Thailand in 2003. It was written in Thailand’s Looks Magazine in 2008 that he and his wife believed in Buddhism; they prayed to Buddha for 5 minutes every morning.
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