In Thailand, a strong belief in the supernatural dates back hundreds of years. However, ghosts have not always been part of Southeast Asian culture. Supernatural-type beliefs only emerged with the arrival of South Asian religions. Prior to this, Southeast Asian cultures held a strong belief in the kwan – essentially, the doctrine that each of the 32 organs in the human body has a spirit. None of these spirits survive physical death. In many parts of Laos, there was also a ritual called baci; it was used to celebrate many important events such as birth, marriage and ordination, based on an ancient belief that it would synchronize all 32 organs or spirits into one human soul.
In Southeast Asia, the belief in kwan existed long before the arrival of Buddhism and Hinduism in the region. When people died, their kwan also left their body and went to heaven or hell. Some ethnic groups believed that a human had 33, 32 or nine minds in them, but when Buddhism and Hinduism came along people changed to believe that we only have one mind. The Buddhist principle of reincarnation also meant that an evil "soul" could be reborn in a less human form, such as a ghost or an evil spirit punished for sins committed in a previous life.
Throughout Southeast Asia, ghosts are an integral part of the culture. There are many forms of ghosts with similar characteristics throughout the region. In Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, there are many ghost names; some managed to cross borders and became common throughout Southeast Asia. The Phi Phet or preta is a big ghost that everyone knows, no matter what country it is from in this region. The ghost of a woman who dies during childbirth is another common ghost that everyone is afraid of. Most Asian countries prioritize women over men, which is why many ghosts take on female forms, such as tree nymphs and water spirits.
In the Thai language, many important names are prefixed with "mae" ("mother"). For example, mae tab (meaning general) and mae nam (meaning river). It is unclear why women were once more important than men in Thailand, but there is ample evidence to show that it was women who controlled rice production and acted as mediums. Similarly, in Myanmar, many mediums have two sexes; although it is not openly discussed, most psychics are transgender.
Ghosts and spirits play an important role in shaping society throughout Asia. The people of these regions believe that no matter where they live, they have a lot in common when it comes to ghosts. The Thai krasue, for example, is a ghost usually depicted as a floating female head with entrails dangling below. This nocturnal spirit is believed to eat only raw, bloody, or rotten food. In Malaysia, a krasue-like ghost is called penanggalan. In Cambodia it is called Pha, while in Indonesia it is known as palasik.
Most cultures in the region, including Thai and Burmese cultures, portray ghosts as human beings. In Thai culture, when paying homage to a spirit, one typically uses various types of food and drink to "bribe" the spirit into giving them what they want. In Myanmar, people make similar offerings, but add clothes and gadgets that they think the spirit can use in the afterlife. Chinese New Year offerings are clear examples of animist beliefs. Replica clothing, money and material objects are burned during the festival as offerings to ancestors.
Thais exhibit a rich and diverse culture, which includes a variety of ghosts from many sources: ancient folk legends, Buddhist beliefs, and modern adaptations. Some of these ghosts are shared with neighboring cultures. The Krasue, for example, is also part of the Cambodian, Laotian and Malay cultures. Some of them, including the Great Preta, are part of Buddhist mythology
One of Thailand's most famous ghost stories tells the story of Mae Nak.
The story is said to date back to the reign of King Rama IV, when Nak's beloved husband Mak was conscripted and sent to war while she was pregnant.
When Nak died giving birth to her son, Mak believed his wife was still alive. But in fact, he lived with his spirit.
Others, like Phi Dip Chin, have entered Thai ghost legend through the Chinese community who have resided in Thailand for a few centuries.
In the Thai worldview, ghosts or other paranormal beings are collectively known as phi.
With the exception of the famous Preta, most ghosts in traditional Thai literature and culture have not been depicted in painting or drawing. Knowledge about them is therefore purely oral.
They are thought to frequent certain places like old cemeteries near Buddhist temples and abandoned houses.
Ancient Thai folklore includes a variety of female ghosts and spirits associated with trees. For example, there is the nang ta-khian, a tree spirit that haunts the Hopea odorata; the nang tani, a young woman who haunts certain banana trees and who appears on full moon nights; the kuman thong, spirits of young boys captured by voodoo masters to carry out their orders; and the mae sue, tutelary goddesses or female ghosts of young children.
Whether or not you believe in ghosts, it is clear that belief in them has a positive effect on the people of Southeast Asia. The culture and way of life of this region is shaped by the belief in spirits and other unexplained powers. Cultural beliefs can change our behaviors and affect our interactions with other people.
In Thailand, animism and folk beliefs are deeply rooted in Buddhism.
In most buildings there is a spirit house - a shrine where offerings can be made to appease ghosts lest they turn malevolent.
Many people wear amulets created by shamans to protect themselves or gain favor from a ghost or spirit.
The amulets has , according to the shamans magical properties
- she grants wishes and favors extremely quickly by repelling evil spirits
- it attracts fortune and brings unexpected wealth through the lottery or other means of gain
- the amulet can also help its owner in gambling by giving him a sixth sense and can even influence the game of cards / dice in favor of its owner
- It is protection against all types of evil, including Thai black magic and evil spirits.
These amulets are charged by powerful spirits that help protect their owner. They can also help in matters of love, provided the wearer is attracted to the desired person.
If you wear this kind of amulet or place it in your spirit temple, your sixth sense will become stronger, letting you know someone's intentions or what is going to happen in any situation.