ON KHWAN, THE RITUAL OF THE "CALL OF THE SOUL"
by Massimo Moriconi on September 20, 2018
Su kwan is an indigenous ritual practiced in Southeast Asia, predominantly in Thailand and Laos. The ceremony takes place on any day of the year, as it is intended to commemorate specific events in the life of an individual. Events can be multiple, any circumstance linked to the human soul, such as births and marriages, but also to enter monasticism, leave, return, start a new year, welcome or make offerings, recover from an illness, etc. The crucial point of the ceremony is to invoke the kwan: according to an ancient belief in Laos, the human being is the union of 32 spirits, the kwan, the spiritual essence of each individual. They watch over and protect the host body. The ceremony therefore has the purpose of recalling the kwan to the body, to protect it and restore balance, reuniting the spirits to the person. During the ceremony, a silk or cotton thread is tied to the right wrist of the subject to be blessed and also around the wrists of all the guests who gather to share this wish.