Thai people are the object of at least two soul rituals in their lives. A soul ritual calls the soul of a sick person to cling to their body and return home with them and their family. Then the soul will not wander among forests, mountains, abd streams, and attract dangerous animals.
Prayers for newly-wed girl wish good things for her before she goes to her in-laws house. Parents hold a soul ritual to inform their house’s ghosts about their new-born baby.
At the New Year celebration, grandparents prepare a couple of chickens and pray for their children’s good health and safe travel through mountains and forests. When an old person is close to death, a soul ritual helps guide his soul to his ancestors.
A shaman, a person believed to have the superpower to contact the spiritual world, hosts the soul ritual. He has a bag which contains clothing of the prayed-for person, a boiled egg, and a grilled fish, and holds a fish net and a cluster of arm-length laths. He sits at the bottom of the stairs and reads a prayer to call the person’s soul.
Quang Van Oai of Phang hamlet, Dien Bien province, said, “Our ancestors believed humans have souls. They held a ritual when they thought someone’s soul was wandering around and the person was sick. The shaman asked the family to prepare wine and pork to call the soul back.”
The souls are invited to enjoy a meal of steamed sticky rice, alcohol, fruit, soup, pork, and chicken. Shaman Me Van Dinh of Na Huoi hamlet, Son La province, said the ritual has been handed down from generation to generation. “The shaman calls the soul from heaven to places on earth and to the person’s house. Children’s souls are wandering on the earth.”
After the ritual, the family and the shaman eat the offering and drink wine to wish the person and their family good health and happiness.