In this week's video, I pay a visit to the Erawan Shrine in downtown Bangkok.
What is a Spirit House?
Pretty much every building in Thailand has a spirit house. Some are bigger than others. Most are pretty small. The spirit house is for the spirits who are supposed to take care of the land and the building.
The Erawan Shrine
The shrine at the Erawan though, is much bigger! It's a full-sized shrine dedicated to the Hindu god Brahma.
Hindu? But isn't Thailand a Buddhist country?
Yes, it sure is. But Thai Buddhism is influenced heavily by Hinduism, and the Hindu gods are revered alongside the Buddha. In fact, royal court Brahmans, holy men of the Hindu priestly caste, play a very important role in several annual ceremonies.
As prayer bells ring and the temple musicians play the droning songs of prayer music to the slow and somber beat of drums, dancers perform ritual prayers in song for those who make a donation to the shrine. The Erawan Shrine is always alive with bright colors, the scent of flower garlands mingling with heavy incense, and the sounds of prayers and music. It's a colorful, beautiful, chaotic place!
The shrine is located at the Erawan Hotel and is very close to the BTS Chitlom Station. You can access the shrine by the skywalk from the station. Admission is free. There are plenty of flower and incense shops surrounding the shrine. If you make a donation, the dancers will perform a prayer for you.