Thailand: Religious Rubbish

45 images Created 22 Nov 2011

Spirit houses have long been an iconic image in Thailand. Remnants of Thailand's animist past Thai people continue to worship a spirit called Phra Phum considered the 'Lord of the Land'.

Phra Phum who inhabits the earth, the 'guardian of the land', can command good or bad fortune on people depending on his pleasure. When the spirit is disturbed, by change to the existing land, it is believed that to appease him a house should be built and tiny figures, statues, food and drink placed to offer comfort and entertainment. This allows humans a harmonious coexistence with his spirit. And similarly Chinese Thai's set up shrines inside their houses to appease their own spirits.

But throughout Bangkok on wasteland you will begin to notice these spirit houses, Chinese shrines and miniature figurines thrown away like rubbish. Along roadsides, on vacant land this religious rubbish has been discarded by its owner, abandoning an age-old tradition that says that a spirit house cannot be simply tossed away. What should be deposited at the base of a sacred Banyan tree or at a Thai temple and given a respectful resting place now inhabits Bangkok's dark corners, the empty spaces between the concrete developments.
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