The Thai Spirit
It’s the festival of Songkran in Thailand today, the traditional Thai new year. It’s a water festival in which friends and family get together and celebrate by sprinkling water on each other, as a symbol of good luck. It’s a three-day festival which starts on April 13th every year and coincides with the new year of many asian cultures. So, Suk San Wan Songkran everyone – Happy Songkran Day!
It’s also friday, the thirteenth and for some superstitious people the combination could be unlucky. But most of my associations with the number 13 have been quite pleasant. My apartment’s number in Bombay was 13 and had a view of a cemetery & a church. It looked quite spooky at night, but far from being unlucky, it was one of the best times I’ve had in India with my friends. And I love Fridays!
According to the Thai, the protective spirits who are all around us, need to kept happy and satisfied, so they decorate the places where the spirit resides with colorful bands of cloth, garlands and other offerings like fruits & drinks. There are various kinds of spirits, good ones and evil ones, like the guardian spirit of the house which watches over and protects the home.
A spirit house placed outside every home, business establishment and practically every place is carved & painted like a miniature Thai temple. There are flowers in vases, animal & people figurines, surrounded by offerings, candles and incense sticks, to make it appealing for the spirits. The house is constructed after consulting a priest and it’s site is important. The structure and decoration of the house depends on the kind of spirit and affordability. Some are simple wooden structures decorated with flowers, while some look extravagant painted in gold.
Even though I am not superstitious, I love the colorful and vibrant Thai culture. The stories behind their beliefs are so interesting that it takes me to a wonderland, with fairy tales and I feel fortunate to have experienced it.