Saturday, June 23, 2012

Spirit Houses in Thailand

photograph used with permission - timinphuket
The Spirit House is usually a miniature model of a traditional Thai-style house or temple that stands atop a shoulder-height pillar in an auspicious spot on a property. These days they are also an attestment to the property owner's financial status - not only have they become bigger but fancier in design - mini European-style mansions and glass-walled resort homes.

Thai people believe that there are spirits residing everywhere, and when we build a house or any type of building, we may unintentionally disturb or displace the spirits originally occupying this piece of land. So a Spirit House is built for the spirits to reside in.  If not given a replacement home when the land is developed,  the spirit can cause problems for the property owner - such as failure on either the family or business front.

Where the Spirit House is placed on the grounds is usually decided upon after consultation with a monk. It is usually somewhere where the shadow of the human house does not fall on it.  

But erecting the Spirit House alone does not mean that the Spirits will be appeased. They must be looked after as well - provided with offerings of food and water, incense on a daily basis, and the Spirit House must be cleaned and adorned with fresh Jasmine flower garlands on a regular basis. If one of your resident house spirit is a man, you have to offer him some alcohol and fags once or twice a month. If it is a child, you make offerings of sweets and mini toys.

Many of these Spirit Houses – big and small – can be seen outside homes and businesses within Phuket Old Town, one more reason for you to pay the place a visit.


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