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Why do Thai people put a small ghost house / shrines in their house / garden?

       A spirit house is a dedicated structure not unlike a birdhouse which can be found in western countries which is placed in the gardens of Thai houses to honour the guardians of the land.

        ‘Spirit houses’ can be found in many houses in Thailand and also in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. They are designed to provide shelter for spirits which may bring problems to the house or its occupants if they are unsatisfied.

           Spirits which may surround a house are usually deceased occupants of the house or frequent visitors to the house who have passed on.

           Spirit houses are becoming less frequent in Thailand in later years but many older houses still have them and present offerings to the spirits in the terms of food, fruit, water and red fanta (more on this later).

          Spirit houses are usually placed in a specifically auspicious place in the garden of the home, they are part of the Buddhist culture of which 95% of Thai citizens follow.

       There are various different types of spirit houses the most popular types are the saan chao thii and the saan phra phum which are wooden structures. Inside the spirit houses you can find a figurine of an old man and an old woman. Next to the spirit house there may be a second house with a figurine of an angel inside.

Installing or removing a spirit house

      A spirit house must be installed or removed by a Brahm priest who is specialised in the craft of spirit houses and who will also advise on the type and color of spirit house to buy.

      First, a 2-meter hole needs to be dug out. To make sure that the spirits are happy, the owners put coins, amulets and colourful stones in the bottom of it. Incense is burnt and an invited monk prays and blesses the place, where a new spirit house will stand.

       If for any reason, a spirit house needs to be removed, a special ceremony is called. The house is then moved to a temple, or to a special cemetery, where it stays until it rots away.

Daily Spirit House rituals

        Fruits and vegetables are offerings to ghosts and spirits to say thanks for bringing good luck, or to ask them for keeping the household safe. These gifts are presented every morning. Incense is then lit, they are supposed to get rid of bad energy. After a whole day, fruits are given to the homeless, animals, or they are thrown away.

       Fruits and vegetables are offerings to ghosts and spirits to say thanks for bringing good luck, or to ask them for keeping the household safe. These gifts are presented every morning. Incense is then lit, they are supposed to get rid of bad energy. After a whole day, fruits are given to the homeless, animals, or they are thrown away.

      You may often see people presenting strawberry Fanta at the spirit house which can seem strange at first but the red colour symbolises blood and it replaces animal sacrifice, which was once performed very often. Blood in Thai culture means life. Thanks to it we live and we die. Animal sacrifice was banned many years ago so strawberry Fanta is now used to subsidise for the blood (I’m not sure how long it was after the banning that strawberry Fanta was invented but it is now very useful for the purpose).

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