From: Bangkok Post
Spirits and ghosts live almost everywhere in Thailand. Most large trees are said to have a ghost or spirit living inside of it and old trees are held in particular respect. The favourite place for female ghosts to live is in a banana grove. There are many species of banana plants in Thailand, but a 'tani' banana grove is the preferred haunting place.
Seen and unseen forces operate in daily Thai life. Flowers, incense, or food is placed in front of shops, on the bows of boats, in front of Buddhist icons and spirit houses. Brightly-coloured ribbon is wrapped around trees or other objects. These are all offerings to the spirits that reside there. A cement pole near my house receives many gifts. There have been too many accidents at this pole and local residents are trying to placate its bad spirit. Keep your eyes open for these offerings when in Thailand and you will be amazed at how many you see.
When I told my Thai girlfriend at work I was writing about ghosts and spirits she exclaimed, "Oh! Even when you just say the word 'ghost' the hair on my arm stands straight up! Look!" Indeed, every hair on her arm was in the vertical position.
Most Thais wear one amulet or more. Amulets are medallions that both men and women wear around their necks and which they believe will protect them from harm or provide them with other forms of assistance. A monk might tell you that the amulet is worn only as a reminder of Buddha's Teachings, not for protection Different amulets have different powers. Some help the wearer attract women while others offer protection against weapons. All amulets offer well-being to the wearer and help keep bad spirits away. Most amulets are given away at temples but there are some amulets which, for a variety of reasons, become very expensive over time. The reasons for this can range from simple popularity to the belief that certain amulets have very strong powers.
There are many tattooed men. Tattoos are often religious passages or religious symbols that offer protection to the wearer. The more superstitious the person, the more tattoos they are apt to have. The properties of tattoos are believed to be similar to those of amulets in the sense that they can offer protection from harm and can been seen as attractive. Tattoos have more recently become modern fashion for some of the men and women who wear them.
'Yan' is the drawing of religious mystical symbols to protect the area from ghosts and bad spirits. Most automobiles, taxis, and busses are adorned with 'yan' and amulets to ensure safe trips. 'Yan' is also painted on the doors of houses to keep unwanted and unseen visitors outside.
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