Life in Laos through the lens of a diplomatic wife raising twin toddlers.
Just about every home, building, shop and places where people frequent throughout Vientiane has a spirit house adorned with flowers, candles, incense and offerings of drinks and food. I used to think that paying tribute was meant to revere the good spirits that protect you. On the contrary, the offerings are to actually appease the bad spirits that reside on that property and keep them from causing harm.
The spirit houses come in all sizes and degrees of ornateness, and offerings can be anything that you think your spirit(s) might like. Even if there isn’t an actual spirit house, I’ve seen offerings grouped together on a shelf in a cafe or on the floor next to a street food stall. It amuses me to see offerings of canned or bottled drinks opened with a straw placed inside, as if the spirits would be inconvenienced without a straw.
I haven’t figured out yet how often to change the food or how many incense to light and how often candles must be lit, and I’ve been wondering if there are specific prayers or calls for appeasement so I’ll have to follow up with more details in a future post after I find out. In the mean time, we’ve tried our best to appease our spirits but operating under uninformed circumstances have probably led us into some bad luck as of late (just a slight setback with household staff, nothing serious) so I have some homework to do before we get it right. And I’ll have to do it soon.