Why do Thai people need “Spirit Houses”?
Whenever you visit Thailand, there is one thing that might make all of you curious about… It is a small beautiful house in front of people’s houses or in front of many buildings.
You may have a question in your mind… ‘Is it a bird house?’ No, it’s not; or ‘Is it some decoration?’ No, it’s not. Actually it is called a ‘Spirit House’ in English and Thai people will call it as Saan Phra Puum (ศาลพระภูมิ).
Why do Thai people need the spirit house in front of their places?… According to Thai beliefs the spirit house is the house for god and goddess who will take care and protect peoples’ land territory. The god and goddess are respectfully engaged from heaven by the owners of the land and buildings to the live in a beautiful spirit house.
There is a legend about a king who ruled Phasi kingdom who had 9 sons. Each of his sons are very smart and powerful then they were sent to many places, the kingdom’s gate, fortress, stairs, buildings, houses, forests, and rivers to protect the whole kingdom. And that legend is told through generations until now. It is from this legend that the reputation and respect for the spirit house comes.
A Spirit House must be set up with a proper ceremony when there is to be a new house or building’s construction.
The Thais believe that it will bring prosperity to the landowners and their families as well as those who living in that area. This is an invoking with a great respect of the guardian spirit to dwell in the spirit house and to protect the homeowner and people who live there to have a peaceful and prosperous fortune. And all people living or visiting the property will consider the guardian spirit as that of the sacred of the house.
The best place for setting up a spirit house must be above normal ground level since it is a place for god and goddess. So, usually the house is mounted on a stand about shoulder or eye level. Further the direction of the spirit house is also key as there are prohibited directions for turning the spirit to which would offer bad fortune.
Every day people will place a small set of food; a mixture of rice, things to eat with the rice, dessert and water on the small space in front of the spirit house on the spirit house itself; they will light 5-9 incenses sticks and then pray before placing the joss sticks into an incense pot. On every Buddhist holy day Thais will put two vase of flowers or a garland in front of the spirit house to worship the spirit inside the spirit house.
- พระภูมิ /prá-puum/ = god and goddess
- ตึก /dtùk/ = building
- บ้าน /bâan/ = house, home
- ปกป้อง /bpòk-bpͻ̂ͻng/ = to protect
- ตำนาน /dtam-naan/ = legend
- ประตูเมือง /bprà-dtuu-mʉang/ = kingdom’s gate
- ป่า /bpàa/ = forest
- อาณาจักร /aa-naa-jàk/ = kingdom
- แม่น้ำ /mԑ̂ԑ-náam/ = river
- อัญเขิญ /an-chəən/ = invoke
- ทิศทาง /tít-taang/ = direction
- เจ้าของ /jâo-kaͻ̌ͻng/ = owner
- ข้าว /kâao/ = rice
- กับข้าว /gàp-kâao/ = things to eat with rice
- ธูป /tûup/ = incense
- กระถางธูป /grà-tǎang-tûup/ = incense pot
- พวงมาลัย /puang-maa-lai/ = garland
- แจกัน /jԑԑ-gan/ = vase
- ดอกไม้ /dͻ̀ͻk-mái/ = flower
- บูชา /buu-chaa/ = to worship
Thank you for visiting this blog and I hope this could be useful for you
See you next blog ka 🙂
Thai Language Teacher