Thailand may be known as a Buddhist country. However, Thais had practised animism for centuries even before Buddhism was introduced to the country. Nowadays, animistic rituals, together with Brahmanism and Hinduism, still play an important role in several aspects of their lives. Outdoor spirit house is an epitome of animistic belief commonly seen at houses and business buildings throughout the country.
It is believed that the spirit that lives in the spirit house helps to protect a house or a building and to care for the welfare of household members or property owners. Traditionally, the shrine, known as “San Phra Phum”, is built on a single pillar. It is normally in the form of a miniature house or temple. Some are elaborately built. Some are simply made from wood. After the spirit house is erected in an auspicious spot of the house or the property, the house owner will ask a Brahmin priest to perform a ceremony to invite a guardian spirit to the house. The ceremony is usually held when the construction of the house or the building start. In some cases, it takes place when the property owner moves to the new house.
The most famous spirit shrine in Thailand is located at the corner of the Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel in one of the busiest intersections of Bangkok. It is well respected by both local worshippers and tourists from Asian countries. Other spirit shrines in the vicinity like the ones at Central World Plaza shopping center also attract a lot of local people who come to pray for good health or good luck in love life, job or business. People give offerings such as flowers, food and small statues to these shrines after their wishes come true.
The Mekhala boat stops at a riverside village of Baan Saladaeng during the cruise. Here, you will have an opportunity to see various styles of spirit house.