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Thai spirit houses

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A new video explaining Thai spirit houses to foreigners is getting many views on our website. It’s a good listening exercise and I’ve provide a transcript to make the text easier to understand. The accent is Australian, incidentally.

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Thai spirit houses

The spirit world is everywhere in Thailand where animism and folk beliefs are deeply infused with Buddhism. They come in all shapes and sizes from the very small to the very large.

Call them an all-in-one home contents, theft, fire and flood alternate insurance policy if you will, these Thai spirit houses are a shrine to the protective spirit of a place and are positioned in an auspicious spot most often in the corner of a property, home or business. High enough to show respect, but low enough to enable daily offerings.

The house is intended to provide shelter to the spirits that could cause all manner of problems if not appeased. These little shrines often include images of people and animals. Votive offerings are left at the house on a daily basis to soothe the spirits.

These daily offerings of food, water, toys, candles, joss sticks and flowers if bestowed regularly and sincerely will then allow the householder to gain confidence and mental strength in order to lead a successful life and perform only good acts.

This large spirit house located right next to the Chitlom BTS station is one of the largest in Bangkok and almost acts as a small temple where passersby pay homage.

At the very least, you will see a large percentage of Thais wai as they pass in acknowledgement of the spirits. Many spirit houses or Saan Pha Phum in Thai are located adjacent a sacred tree such as the one here. You’ll notice the building is built to accommodate the tree so as to preserve every limb and branch. A house or business built around a sacred tree is said to be particularly ideally located.

Thai people firmly believe that if the spirits of happy, their homes and workplaces will be safe and happy too.

Vocabulary:

acknowledgement (noun.): when someone shows that they received or accept something - การยอมรับ, การแสดงความขอบคุณ, การแสดงว่าได้รับ, การรับรู้

act : an action - การกระทำ

adjacent : very near, next to, or touching - ติดกัน

alternate (adj): alternative; that can be used instead of something else - ที่มีตัวเลือก, รอง, สำรอง

animism (noun): the belief that plants, objects and natural things such as the weather have a living soul - ความเชื่อว่ามีวิญญาณในธรรมชาติและจักรวาล

appease : to say or do something in order to make someone feel less angry - ปลอบใจ หรือทำให้เป็นที่พอใจ

auspicious : (opposite: inauspicious) suggesting a positive and successful future - ที่มีฤกษ์ดี

bestow : (of something valuable or important) to give - มอบให้

branch (noun): a part of a tree that grows out from the main stem and on which leaves, flowers and fruit grow - กิ่งก้าน

candle : a stick of wax with a string in it called a wick that you burn to give light - เทียน

confidence : the quality of being certain - ความมั่นใจ

content (noun): what is inside something - สิ่งที่บรรจุอยู่, ปริมาณความจุ, จำนวนของสิ่งที่บรรจุอยู่

daily basis : every day; daily - แต่ละวัน, ทุกวัน

enable : to make someone able to do something, or to make something possible - ทำให้เป็นไปได้

firmly : in a strong or definite way - อย่างหนักแน่น

folk beliefs (noun): folklore; the beliefs, traditions and stories of a country or community - คติชาวบ้าน,ความเชื่อหรือขนบธรรมเนียมประเพณีของชาวบ้าน

householder : a person who owns or rents the house that they live in - ผู้ครองเรือน, เจ้าของบ้าน

ideally : in the best possible way — - ดีเลิศ, ดีที่สุด, ในอุดมคติ

image : a photograph, painting, or other work of art that represents a person or thing - รูปภาพ

infuse (verb): to have an effect on all parts of something; to make somebody/something have a particular quality - มีผลต่อ, ทำให้ซึมซาบด้วย

insurance : an arrangement in which you regularly pay an insurance company an amount of money so that they will give you money if something you own is damaged, lost, or stolen, or if you die or are ill or injured - การประกัน

intended : planned; wanted to happen - ที่ได้วางแผนไว้ ที่ตั้งใจให้เกิดขึ้น

joss stick (noun): a thin wooden stick covered with a substance that burns slowly and produces a sweet smell - ธูป

limb (noun): a large branch of a tree - กิ่ง

located : where something is - ตั้งอยู่

mental : connected with or happening in the mind; involving the process of thinking - เกี่ยวกับจิตใจ

offering (noun): something that is given as part of religious worship - ของบูชา, ของถวาย (ทางศาสนา)

passersby : people who are going past somebody, a place, an event, etc. - ผู้คนผ่านไปมาตามถนน

pay homage to : to show deep respect for someone - แสดงความเคารพ

percentage (noun): an amount divided by 100 - อัตราร้อยละ, จำนวนร้อยละ, อัตราต่อหนึ่งร้อย

policy : a written statement of a contract of insurance - กรมธรรม์ประกันภัย

position : to put somebody/something in a particular place or position - จัดวาง, วางที่, วางตำแหน่ง

preserve : to keep something as it is, especially in order to prevent it from being damaged or destroyed - ทำให้คงอยู่, สงวน

property : land owned by someone - ที่ดิน, อสังหาริมทรัพย์

protective : providing or intended to provide protection - ซึ่งปกป้อง

provide : to give someone/ something that they want or need - จัดหาให้, จัดเตรียมไว้ให้

regularly : done or happening often, especially with the same time and space in between each activity and the next - เป็นประจำ, เสมอๆ

respect : a feeling of admiration that you have for someone/something because of their personal qualities, their achievements, or their status, and that you show by treating them in a polite and kind way - ความเคารพ, ความนับถือ

sacred : considered to be holy - ศักดิ์สิทธิ์

shelter : a place where people are protected from danger or bad weather; a temporary place to stay - ที่หลบภัย  ที่พักชั่วคราว

shrine : a place for worship which is holy because of a connection with a holy person or object - สถานที่บูชา

sincerely : (of a person, feelings or behaviour) not pretending or lying; honestly - อย่างจริงใจ

soothe (verb): to make somebody who is anxious, upset, etc. feel calmer; to make a tense or painful part of your body feel more comfortable - ทำให้สงบ, บรรเทาความเจ็บปวด

theft (noun): (the act of) dishonestly taking something which belongs to someone else and keeping it - การลักขโมย

votive offering (noun): an offering presented to a god as a sign of thanks - การใช้บน

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