Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sidewalk Images #4

Scenes that would be considered unusual in western countries are common enough that even we expats eventually barely give them a passing glance. This offering of food and drink, set on modern styrofoam trays, conveys the traditional intent of paying homage to spirits. Not a Buddhist tradition, it nonetheless is practiced widely by Thais, keeping alive the animist beliefs of their pre-Buddhist ancestors. This scene is near my school, and is refreshed on a regular basis, perhaps to please the spirit of a relative who died at the spot in a traffic accident.


Awakr said...

This is a custom in central-southern Italy, too. A bouquet of flowers, both fake (oddly colorful) and real (almost immediately withering to a sad memento) are fastened around a tree or a guardrail to mark the spot of a hit. In Greece I recall passing many small replicas of Orthodox churches on pedestals beside the mountain curves to visit the Meteora monasteries, with the same meaning.

John Stiles said...

People leave flowers and often erect a cross near fatal car accident sites in the States as well. The mini-church pedestals are not seen in the U.S.