Sanphraphum is the Thai word for these beautiful miniature temples that can be described as Spirit Houses. Simply put, a majority of the Thais believe that there are spirits guarding the land. Every household, company, school, restaurant, business (you name it) has a Sanpraphum in front of the main home/building.
It is believed that once you have invited the particular spirits into the Sanphraphum, through an important ritual, the spirit/spirits will inhabit the little house. These spirits are neither good or evil, but if you take care of them, they can be able to guard your house and land, and help you through life. Offerings include food, fruits, incences and even small furniture etc.
This Thai tradition has been practised in Thailand for a very long time, before Buddhism was even founded. It is a part of the animistic culture of Thailand, that is still today very important and has, just like other animistic beliefs, come to integrate with Buddhism.
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