Bangkok is a feast for the eyes, from its gleaming, modern skyscrapers to its colorful street vendors. But nothing charms and intrigues me more than the mysterious Thai Spirit Houses that grace every property – both residential and commercial. These little houses are delightful miniature replicas of a Thai-style house or temple mounted on a pillar.
According to traditional Thai belief, the Spirit House provides a home for the roaming resident spirits of the compound. These spirits are believed to wield considerable power, and can play a major role in the fortune and destiny of the inhabitants of the compound. If the spirits are offended by disrespect, neglect, or inappropriate acts, then bad luck and misfortune will befall the owner and residents of the house.
To appease and pacify the spirits, a daily offering of incense sticks, fresh flowers, and food is presented. The shrines often include images of people and animals.
The location of the Spirit House is of primary importance. It must be placed in an auspicious spot. Thais believe that a badly positioned Spirit House can bring misfortune to the residents. Great care is taken to insure that it’s never placed in a location where it’s in the shadow of the main building, so the Spirit House is often found in the northeastern corner of the property.
The votive offerings are so interesting, particularly the modern-day treats. My favorites so far are Ferrero Rocher chocolates and a five-pack of cigars. These spirits are livin’ large!