Thursday, February 5, 2015

Spirit Houses

All over Thailand and Bangkok there are Spirit Houses.  They can range from quite small to very large and elaborate.  Spirit houses serve as shrines to protective spirits.  The spirits are thought to protect homes and businesses from misfortune.

Spirit houses are usually placed in a favorable location chosen after consultation with a Brahmin priest, often in a corner of the property that does not get shade.  Normally in the form of a miniature house or temple, spirit houses are often mounted on a single pillar or on a dais.

This spirit house was situated on a roof and was visible from the train as it passed by.

The elephant is an important symbol in Thailand - animal representations are often included as part of a spirit house.

The spirit house provides shelter for spirits that could cause problems for the people if not appeased. The shrines often include images of people and animals.  Offerings of food, drink, incense and flowers are left to nurture the spirits.  In return the spirits offer protection and good fortune.

On this particular day, the spirits must have taken the form of pigeons when they visited the spirit house to accept the offerings of food and drink!

 While walking around Bangkok, it was interesting to note that the spirit houses come in many different sizes and shapes and range from very simple to very intricate and complex.

 The spirit houses are also another example of the contrasts found in Bangkok.  It's an ultra modern city of sky scrapers, high rise apartments and some of the best medical care in the world, yet a multi-million dollar construction project can't or won't proceed until a spirit house has been properly established on the property.  Failure to do so could bring unimaginable bad luck. 

These contrasts or ironies are also a major part of Thailand's charm and appeal.  It's rather cool that there is room for both modern progress and ancient beliefs in this amazing country.