Spirit Houses in Thailand
Spirit houses, also known as "San Phra Phum" or "San Chao Pho" in Thai, are small, decorative structures found in many homes and businesses in Thailand. They are believed to provide a place for spirits to reside and are considered to be an important part of Thai spiritual and cultural beliefs.
People often make offerings of food, drinks, and other items to the spirits in the spirit house as a way of showing respect and gaining protection. The spirit houses are usually located at the front of the property and are built in a traditionally Thai architectural style.
Why do People Leave Food and Beverages?
People often leave food, drinks, and other items at spirit houses to show respect and in exchange for protection and good fortune. The specific offerings can vary depending on the individual or community, but some common offerings include:
Fruits: such as bananas, pineapples, and coconuts
Sweets: such as candy and desserts
Incense: to create a pleasant aroma and show respect
Flowers: to decorate the spirit house and show respect
Drinks: such as water, soda, and alcohol, which are believed to be enjoyed by the spirits
Some people also leave cooked food, such as rice and curry, as an offering to the spirit. These offerings are usually left daily or weekly and are often accompanied by prayer and other rituals.
Are the Spirits Good or Evil?
In Thai spiritual beliefs, there are both good and bad spirits. Good spirits, known as "Phi Tai Hong" in Thai, are believed to bring good luck and prosperity. They are often associated with nature and are said to reside in places such as trees, mountains, and rivers. People often make offerings to good spirits as a way of gaining protection and blessings.
Bad spirits, known as "Phi Tai Glom" in Thai, are believed to bring misfortune, illness, and bad luck. They are often associated with negative emotions such as anger and jealousy and are said to reside in places such as graveyards and abandoned buildings. People often make offerings to bad spirits in order to pacify them and prevent them from causing harm.
It's important to note that these beliefs are part of Thai culture and spiritual practices, and may not be shared by everyone.
What are Spirit Houses Made Of?
These spirit houses are usually made of a combination of different materials, depending on the design and location. Typically, the structure of the spirit house is made of wood and is built in a traditionally Thai architectural style, with intricate carvings and decorations.
Some of the spirit houses are also built using cement and bricks, these ones are usually larger and more elaborate, often decorated with colorful ceramic tiles, glass mosaics, and gold leaf.
The roof of the spirit house is usually made of tile or thatch, and the base of the structure is often decorated with colorful pebbles or other natural materials. The spirit houses are often adorned with statues of various deities, animals, and other figures that are believed to provide protection and blessings to the house's inhabitants.
What do Spirit Houses Cost?
The cost of a spirit house in Thailand can vary greatly depending on the size, design, and materials used.
A simple, small spirit house made of wood and basic materials can cost as little as a few hundred Thai Baht (a few dollars).
While more elaborate, larger spirit houses made of cement or bricks and decorated with colorful ceramic tiles, glass mosaics, and gold leaf can cost several thousand Thai Baht, or even more. The size, materials, and decorations all factor into the cost of the spirit house.
Additionally, some people hire professional spirit house builders to construct and install the spirit house, this can also add to the cost.
It's also worth noting that the spirit houses are often purchased as a way of gaining protection and blessings, and the cost is considered as an offering to the spirits. So, the cost may not be the main concern for people.
Are Spirit Houses for Businesses or Personal Homes?
Spirit houses are commonly found in both personal homes and businesses.
In personal homes, spirit houses are usually located at the front of the property, and are considered to be an important part of Thai spiritual and cultural beliefs. Many people believe that having a spirit house on their property will bring good luck and protection to their family.
In businesses, spirit houses are also commonly found, especially in small businesses such as street-side shops and restaurants. They are believed to bring good fortune and protection to the business, as well as to the people working there. They are usually located in a prominent place, such as at the front of the shop or restaurant, or near the entrance.
It's worth noting that these spirit houses are not only found in Thailand but also in other Southeast Asian countries such as Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.