Nothing is left to coincidence in Thailand. Today while reading a book I learned that even a house plan in Isaan has a deeper thought behind it. It has to do with auspiciousness. The four wind directions have different meanings in Buddhism.
‘’East is auspicious, represents life, is sacred (the Buddha shelf of the house is always placed in the easterly direction), and is in the direction of the rising sun. East is also, when one faces north, the direction of the right hand and represents the male sex. West is inauspicious, represents death, impurity, and the setting sun. It also represents the female sex. North is auspicious and is associated with the elephant, an auspicious animal because of its size, natural strength and associations with royalty and Buddhist mythology. South is of neutral value.’’ (S.J. Tambiah, Buddhism and the Spirit Cults in North-east Thailand)
For reasons that are evident it would therefore be hard to find a traditional Thai house with a main bedroom that is placed in the west. The west would be where the kitchen and washing place are. Of course, these things are changing a little bit nowadays. So why do I write a blog about this? I think we need to realize how the Thai worldview is still totally interwoven with Buddhism and spirit worship. It is not a separate dimension of life. This is difficult to understand for somebody who comes from a society that has a more dualistic than holistic worldview. So, the next time you notice a ‘coincidence’ ask a Thai friend for his thoughts on the subject.
Ewoud and Gerjo Koning