Connecting People Through Goodwill and Friendship

The Khwan And Its Ceremonies (Siam Society Article)



In traditional animistic beliefs of many Tai-speaking peoples, including the Thai people, the term “khwan” (ขวัญ) is used to refer to the souls inhabiting the body of an individual. The number and location of the souls in the body vary by traditions, but chief among them is the “chom khwan” (จอมขวัญ) or the “crown soul,” which is located the crown of the head. Khwan must be maintained and cared for. If a khwan becomes lost, the individual falls prey to sickness and misfortunes. Thus, traditions were born in service to the keeping and nourishment of the khwan. These beleifs, rituals, and practices bring family members and community members together in the spirit of expressing love and care for each other. They also connect individuals with natural and spiritual forces around them.


Beliefs about khwan endures despite the adoption of Brahmanism-Hinduism and Buddhism into Thai spirituality, having been blended with the concept and rituals of the two Indian religions. Even in the modern age where technology and science prevail, beliefs and rituals of the khwan remain a steadfast feature in the Thai way of life. Perhaps what science and technology could not provide to many on a deeper level is the message of spiritual connection and care for each other that khwan is able to convey. Join us in exploring the beliefs and rituals surrounding the khwan in this article, written be Thailand’s pioneer folklorist Phya Anuman Rajadhon.


Read Full Article (PDF)

Author: Phya Anuman Rajadhon


* This article was published in the Journal of Siam Society and is being shared on the Thailand Foundation Website with permission from The Siam Society.