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    Member Thai Wife's Avatar
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    Spirit House Information

    Building a spirit house (SaanPhraPhum) for the property is an ancient Hinduism/Brahmanism practice that still exists throughout Thailand. The Thais believe that these spirits or guardian angels inhabit every piece of land and need to be appeased when disturbed. By providing the spirit with a home of its own, serenity and harmony will be assured within the property. If properly respected and cared for, the spirit will provide protection and ensure wealth and prosperity to the owner. The guardian spirit, or "PhraPhum" of the residence and business, is "PhraChaiMongKol".





    A site selection for the spirit house, and an invitation to the spirit to take up residence, must be made. Traditionally, these are overseen by a Brahman priest or someone who specializes in conducting such ceremonies. The auspicious time and place for it to be held is determined by astrological calculations.





    The best day is Wednesday or Thursday, in the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th or 11th waxing or waning moon. There are also several dates in the year that are bad luck for this ceremony like โลกาวินาศ (LoKaViNas) and อุบาทว์(OoBaat) days. As for the location, the spirit house should be at the north side of the main building, and facing the north. If north is not available, the northeast would be your next choice. No matter which location you choose, you need to be sure that it's not under the shadow of the house, or vice versa.

    This ceremony is the same as when installing the first pole (SaoAke) for the main house. The Brahman will have to guide you for the best location according to ancient belief of how the Naga is positioned for that month. He will have to locate the stomach of the Naga, and that's where you will begin to dig. Please don't ask me of how the Naga got into this story. The Naga is in most of the religious stories, and the branching out is very complex.

    Once you have dug the hole, 9 of the lucky woods will have to be staked in it before placing the pole. The following is the list of woods.

    1. ไม้ราชพฤกษ์ หมายถึง ความเป็นใหญ่และมีอำนาจวาสนา
    Pudding Pine, Indian Laburnum, Golden Shower - Scientific name is Cassia fistula L. = For More Power

    2. ไม้ขนุน หมายถึง หนุนให้ดีขึ้นร่ำรวยขึ้น ทำอะไรจะมีผู้ให้การเกื้อหนุน
    Jack fruit Tree - Scientific name is Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam. = Supporting of wealth and fortune

    3. ไม้ชัยพฤษ์ หมายถึง การมีโชคชัย ชัยชนะ
    Javanese Cassia - Scientific name is Cassia javanica L. = Luck and Victory

    4. ไม้ทองหลาง หมายถึง การมีเงินมีทอง
    Indian Coral Tree, Variegated Tigerís Claw - Scientific name is Erythrina variegata L. = Money and Gold

    5. ไม้ไผ่สีสุก หมายถึง มีความสุข
    Bamboo - Scientific name is Bambusa blumeana Schult = Happiness

    6. ไม้ทรงบาดาล หมายถึง ความมั่นคง หรือทำให้บ้านมั่นคงแข็งแรง
    Kalamona, Scrambled Eggs - Scientific name is Cassia Surattensis Burm. f. = Strong and stable

    7. ไม้สัก หมายถึง ความมีศักดิ์ศรี ความมีเกียรติ
    Teak - Scientific name is Tectona grandis L.f. = Honorable

    8. ไม้พะยูง หมายถึง การพยุงฐานะให้ดีขึ้น
    Siamese Rosewood - Scientific name is Dalbergia cochinchinensis Pierre = Same as jack fruit

    9. ไม้กันเกรา หมายถึง ป้องกันภัยอันตรายต่าง ๆ หรืออีกชื่อหนึ่งว่าตำเสา ซึ่งอาจหมายถึง ทำให้เสาเรือนมั่นคง
    Anon, Tembusu - Scientific name is Fagraea fragrans Roxb. = Protect from all harm/danger.





    The length for each wood should be about 12 inches, and narrow at one end like a pencil. The Brahman will chant the incantation 108 times to bless the woods. In another words, he will cast the spell on the wood before staking each into the ground.

    While putting the auspicious woods in the ground, the Brahman will perform another incantation until they are all level with the ground. At this time, you should throw pieces of your jewelry, like gold, silver, copper money and anything else that represents wealth, into the hole. The last thing to put into the middle of the hole, before placing the pole, is a plate made of either silver or copper, that already has the "YanTra" ( Mystic Symbol) on it.

    Once the Spirit House is set in place, a figure of the "PhraPhum" is placed inside along with some furnishings to keep him comfortable and provide company. It is not uncommon to find servants, umbrellas, horses, elephants, and statues of traditional Thai dancers. Contemporary spirit houses sometimes even house TVs and cars. The PhraPhum statue has a double-edged sword (symbolizing the conquering of demons) in his right hand, and a book (to record the deeds, births and deaths of the occupants of the land) in his left hand. It could be possible to see "PhraPhum" holding a bag of money in his left hand, symbolizing wealth.







    Incense and candles are lit, flowers are set in place and all food offerings should be on the table in front of the spirit house. The Brahman will now invite PhraPhum into his house. The ceremony will last about 3 hours, depending upon the preparation of things needed for the ceremony.





    Good luck to all of you that try to build your house in Thailand. I know that there are a lot of mysteries that are really difficult to get an answer for. If you're willing to listen carefully, usually someone will try to help you to understand. My late grandfather always said, "If you don't ask the question, you will not know the answer".

  2. #2
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    ChiangMai noon's Avatar
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    super thread Thai wife.

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    Thailand Expat El Gibbon's Avatar
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    Thank you for the basics on spirit houses. I've been looking forward to this since you first brought it up on Hillbillies thread.

    One question. In a previous place the then GF insisted on a new spirit house. I did not pay too much attention to what was going on. The pole and spirit house were replaced. Then a woman came and spent about half a day doing the blessing/installation.

    Is it common to replace a spirit house and what might the reasons be?

    Tks

    E. G.
    "If you can't stand the answer --
    Don't ask the question!"

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    so you mean i cannot just go to the shops buy a cheap wooden or plastic one and stick it the ground then?

    would that cause bad luck ?

    also I've seen the trees by sides of roads which appear to be spirit house grave yards - how are they determined ? and who would 'throw out' a spirit house?

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    Kraut Koonta stroller's Avatar
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    I think tree-spirits are a different species of nature spirits, they have their shrines and receive gifts as well - the larger the tree, the more powerful the spirit.

    Thanks, Thaiwife, this reminds me of the "spirit" topic I want to start, once I get me pics sorted out for it.

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    So, what happens if you don't have a spirit house?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog View Post
    So, what happens if you don't have a spirit house?
    you end up losing the ashes for your country.......

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    Thanks so much Thai Wife. Great post. So hard to find this sort of information either in books or on line.

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    What sort of shrine do I need for a departed loved one?

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    Member Thai Wife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Gibbon
    One question. In a previous place the then GF insisted on a new spirit house. I did not pay too much attention to what was going on. The pole and spirit house were replaced. Then a woman came and spent about half a day doing the blessing/installation.
    Is it common to replace a spirit house and what might the reasons be?
    Yes, it is common to replace the spirit house when it gets old or damaged. The ceremony will be less of a hassle than the first time.
    The replacement date is still very important. You also need two sets of food offerings for the "PhraPhum" - one is for the old spirit house, and another for the new.

    As for the woman conducting the ceremony, she could be a "Brahmanee" or someone who specializes in this event. The old spirit house will be taken to the Temple and put under the sacred Bohdi tree.

    Note: People sometimes change it just because of a new ownership for the property.



    Quote Originally Posted by kingwillyhggtb
    so you mean i cannot just go to the shops buy a cheap wooden or plastic one and stick it the ground then?
    would that cause bad luck ?
    also I've seen the trees by sides of roads which appear to be spirit house grave yards - how are they determined ? and who would 'throw out' a spirit house?
    Well, since it is not a mail box, the answer will have to be "No". You cannot just buy it and stick in the ground. You're better off not to put up any, if a proper ceremony cannot be done. The reason of putting up the spirit house is really for the peace in the home owner's heart.

    The trashed houses you see on the road are left for the homeless "ghost". Instead of totally trashing it, people will sometimes leave it by the road for the ghosts that have no place to live. Some of these ghosts died too early, and are in between the human world and hell or heaven.




    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the dog
    So, what happens if you don't have a spirit house?
    As with my response to kingwillyhggtb, the real reason of putting up the spirit house is really for the sake of the home owner. Besides, you really don't want the spirit living with you in the main house. It is believed that sometimes the spirits could be strong enough to make you sick, and even cause death. You want to keep them comfortable in their own house, and well fed.

    Thais like to believe in somethings that you can't see. They will flock to get a piece of anything that is thought to be holy or sacred. I personally believe that people will only suffer from what they have done to themselves. If I don't want to have any bad luck, I just try not to do any bad thing.

  11. #11
    Member Thai Wife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hootad Binky
    What sort of shrine do I need for a departed loved one?
    I think you need a "Chedi" for that. People will put bone and ash from their passed relative in it.

    Here are some samples.


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    Thailand Expat Whiteshiva's Avatar
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    Great thread and great pictures, Thai wife. Sorry I can only green you once!

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    Thailand Expat El Gibbon's Avatar
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    Great thread and responses, now I'm a little more 'tunied in' to the why and where issues of spirit houses.

    In neither location where I've lived did the spirirt houses face north. Actually in Phuket it was west and here in Chantaburi it is ENE. I don't suppose the orientation is that important.

    E. G.

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    We were instructed to have our spirit-house facing north.

    I wasn't too popular at the original spirit-house ceremony due to asking too many "stupid" questions.

    ie. If a four rai block of land has a guardian spirit and then the land is subsequently sub-divided into four one rai plots and has houses build on them, and if each owner puts up a spirit-house, where do the extra spirits come from?

    ie. If our own spirit is a Muslim spirit (so we were told), yet, still needs a ladder to get in and out of the spirit-house, how does he perform the Haj like all good muslims should?

    I hate smart-arses, but, I can't help being one sometimes.

    Great thread by the way TW.
    Phuket - Veni Vidi Veni

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Burr
    ie. If a four rai block of land has a guardian spirit and then the land is subsequently sub-divided into four one rai plots and has houses build on them, and if each owner puts up a spirit-house, where do the extra spirits come from?
    I think as you do. But I'm always trying to remind myself not to agonize over inconsequential details. As Westerners, we love to do this. We are visual thinkers and need to see the big picture.

    Thai people are generally in auditory mode where temporal and spacial horizons are very close by.

    Bottom line: Don't think too much.

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    Member donmeurett's Avatar
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    I am truely greatful for the Information on the Spirit Houses. Never Knew it is so involved to put one up.
    Thanks so Much

    don
    hodag@yahoo.com
    Rangsit Klong 3

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    Member Thai Wife's Avatar
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    The story that you're about to read has been modified/compressed. I only chose the important part of it, the rest of the story can be very confusing. Hinduism/Brahmanism has too many different Gods and Goddesses to keep an explanation clear. Besides all of that, there are so many different levels and classes to track, also.

    "PhraChaiMongkhol" is a first out of nine sons of the King of Phali, named "ThoSaRaj", and Queen "SanThaThuk". According to the Brahman preference book, called "PhromMaChart", King ThoSaraj owned all the land on this earth. He was cursed by "Phra Shiva" (other preference said "Phra Vishnu") when in his demon life, to only take food offerings from humans, performing a religious ritual.

    King ThoSaRaj sent all of his nine sons to protect and care for nine different areas of responsibility:

    1. PhraChaiMongKhol takes care of all houses and commercial buildings.




    2. PhraNaKhonRaj takes care of all forts, city gates, war commanding centers, and stairs.




    3. PhraThaePhen looks after all housing elephants, horses, cows and buffalos.




    4. PhraChaiSop looks after all provisions, storehouses and silos.




    5. PhraKonThan takes care of all wedding ceremonies, newly-wed houses and places of entertainment.




    6. PhraDharMaHora takes care of fields, orchards, forests, and mountains.




    7. PhraVaiYaThad (ThaeWaThaen) looks after monuments, stupas, and temples.




    8. PhraDhraMaMikaraj looks after all activities involving agricultural products.




    9. PhraTajThaRa takes care of all bodies of water like lakes, rivers, etc., and all of the water from the atmosphere.




    The nine sons are collectively called "PhraPhum". By worshipping "PhraPhom", it could be thought of as a fortune of good luck for the human, while originally stemming from a curse.

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    Member Thai Wife's Avatar
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    Your participation encouraged me to increase my knowledge of this subject. I even called one of the local Monks for some insight of why the Buddhist Monks are sometimes involved with Brahmanism. Thank you for the kudos!

    Quote Originally Posted by El Gibbon
    In neither location where I've lived did the spirit houses face north. Actually in Phuket it was west and here in Chantaburi it is ENE. I don't suppose the orientation is that important.
    North or Northeast is what is recommended for a residence or commercial building. As long as it does not fall into a shadow from the main house or the other way around, you are OK. There is another thing I should mention, do not face it toward the bathroom, or be next to it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Burr
    If a four rai block of land has a guardian spirit and then the land is subsequently sub-divided into four one rai plots and has houses build on them, and if each owner puts up a spirit-house, where do the extra spirits come from?
    ie. If our own spirit is a Muslim spirit (so we were told), yet, still needs a ladder to get in and out of the spirit-house, how does he perform the Haj like all good muslims should?
    As you can see in my previous post, it does not matter how many houses you want to build on your 4 rai. It is a single (omnipresent) spirit of "PhraChaiMongKhol", even if four shrines are build for him. You need to understand that there could be a spirit called "ChaoThee" living on that property also. This spirit originally died on that piece of land, and has not moved on. But if he/she is Muslim, I have no idea what the Muslims believe.

    You will find different stories from different places in Thailand. People in each region have beliefs according to their parents, grandparents, great grandparents and personal sphere. The best advice from me would be a "monkey see - monkey do" attitude. To have harmony in your household, you should follow the traditions of your area.

  19. #19
    Kraut Koonta stroller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Burr
    If a four rai block of land has a guardian spirit and then the land is subsequently sub-divided into four one rai plots and has houses build on them, and if each owner puts up a spirit-house, where do the extra spirits come from?
    I can answer this one:
    It's not like there is a certain amount of land 'owned' by a single spirit, we do not know this, all we know (or rather believe) is that there are spirits, and when we build houses, we encroach on their space. Most spirits are subject to the same emotions of like, dislike, hate and envy as humans, and if these are strong enough, this energy may manifest in the material world.
    So it is wise to offer a spirit house and secure the benevolence of whatever spirit may get offended by our creating a living space for ourselves.
    Actually, the belief in nature spirits is widely spread around around the world, and manifests in different customs and rituals.
    When I lived in the Phils, my gf there got il, after peeing in the garden when we came back from a party.

    One of the wise women in the neighbourhood reckoned she was unwittingly peeing on a spirit, and performed a ritual with burning charcoal to "clean" the illness causing "will" of this spirit from her body. Workeed as well, this did, auto-suggestion or whatever you may want to call it.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymous Coward View Post

    Bottom line: Don't think too much.
    sorry to be pendantic but its

    doan tink too mutt!


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    Quote Originally Posted by stroller View Post
    One of the wise women in the neighbourhood reckoned she was unwittingly peeing on a spirit, and performed a ritual with burning charcoal to "clean" the illness causing "will" of this spirit from her body. Workeed as well, this did, auto-suggestion or whatever you may want to call it.
    my (thai) missus thinks exactly the same thing - when travelling .. if i need to stop teh car by the roadside and relive myself - I MUST wai before doign so .....

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    Kraut Koonta stroller's Avatar
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    ^
    Common sense, reallly, you farangs are a strange bunch, goodness knows why Buddha had you come over here.

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    Member Thai Wife's Avatar
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    As you may already know, there are many spirit types living among us. Besides "PhraPhum", there is "ChaoThee" or Tah/Yai, Phu/Yah (ancestors), that Thais also respect. Some people build a place for this spirit inside their property, while some use one for the whole village.

    All of these mentioned spirits are of the same type. They used to be human, but their soul didn't go anywhere when they died. As in the Buddhist belief, the soul was tied up with something here on earth before their last breath. Some of the spirits where humans sacrificed long ago for the pupose of protecting a region from enemies, or other ancient ceremonies.

    The strength of this type of spirit could even be stronger than PhraPhum. If the cause of the death was unnatural, the spirit could be a very powerful one. Stroller already mentioned that they also have emotion. The only way to calm the spirit down is to give it what it needs.

    When building a house for them, you need to have 4 legs on the house (6 legs in some areas). Normally it will be set into place at the same time with SaanPhraPhum. Again, the requirements vary according to the region.






    These are samples from other regions:





    Sorry! I could not find a picture for a communal house used for the entire village. There is one in my home village, but I have no picture. If any of you have pictures of any of these sights, please feel free to share them with us.

    As a Holiday bonus - The following are the number of incense sticks used to pay homage to spirits:

    1. For Buddha, use 3 sticks, 1st one repesenting the Lord Buddha, 2nd for Dhamma and 3rd for Buddhist Monk
    2. Someone who has passed away, use 1 stick.
    3. PhraPhum requires 9 sticks.
    4. ChaThee or ancestor needs 5 sticks, but if he/she has servants, then you need to use 7 sticks.
    5. PhraPhrom (Brahma), use 16 sticks, representing the 16th level of heaven.

  24. #24
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    Good reading, excellent thread.

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    Thailand Expat El Gibbon's Avatar
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    See, what a single post on Hillbillies thread can lead to? You've managed to educate quite a few (your choice) Farang.

    Congratulations, another greenie.

    E. G.

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