Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Appeasing The Shadow Side


Evidence of the Thai peoples' strong belief in the spirit world can be observed in places one might expect, as well as random spots, like this impromptu offering left by the roadside in central Bangkok. It appears to consist of incense sticks, perhaps a bit of whiskey, and a small Thai dessert.

Even passing Bangkok street dogs seem to realize this these offerings aren't to be disturbed. OK, that's not true: Most street dogs would wolf down the entire offering, even the whiskey.

It's a peaceful little scene, but one that belies the fact that cars and trucks are zooming noisily by just a few feet away, belching and honking and doing their damnedest to destroy every shred of concentration and contemplation a Bangkok pedestrian might be able to muster.

Thais believe that guardian spirits oversee buildings and certain outdoor spaces, and the proper protocol for ensuring they're kept happy is to offer them small gifts on a regular basis. This is particularly true for business owners, who believe the spirits residing nearby must be placated if the venture is to have any chance of succeeding. That's why it's likely this offering was made by a nearby noodle soup or roast chicken seller plying their wares in the late afternoon sunlight.

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