You can’t miss them if you visit Thailand; they’re everywhere, in Bangkok and the countryside. Travelers are surprised to see them in front of so many buildings: homes, hotels and office and government buildings. Why are they there? Because Thai people believe in good and evil spirits.
By constructing a little house that they install close to the main building, Thais purify the land and ensure that the occupants of the new building will live in peace. In other words, they sign a form of spiritual pact with evil spirits to keep them away.
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Thais often turn to astrologists to determine the exact location of the spirit house. Or they may turn to a Brahmin, called a “phram” in Thai, a priest who dresses entirely in white.
Most of the time, spirit houses are positioned so that you have to look up to see them. The little houses are built near the main door, facing north or, even better, south. The shadow of the building they protect should never fall on the spirit house.
Spirit houses are mass produced, often in concrete. Their shape should never evoke anything negative. A long house wouldn’t be wise for example, because it calls to mind a coffin. A t-shape is also out, because it looks like a vulture in flight. The little houses often resemble miniature temples. [……]