Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The People and Religion of Thailand

The People
Thai Child
Apart from being a country of scenic diversity, Thailand is a home to diverse ethnic groups of people as the country has been a migratory crossroads in the past. Even though the ethnic groups varied, having made up of 80% Thai, 10% Chinese, 3% Malay and the remainders are ethnic communities such as Mon, Khmer, Laotian, Indian and several small hill tribes; Thailand is firmly culturally and socially united. The sweet smiles, warm hospitality and generosity gestures of the Thais are found everywhere throughout a country.

The Religion
a girl pays homage to the Buddha image
As Thailand is a country that allows full freedom of religion, the Thais adhere to Muslim, Christianity, Hinduism and other faiths, with Theravada Buddhism as the national religion. Thailand is one of the most strongly Buddhist countries in the world, and Buddhism is practiced by more than 90 % of all Thais.
Buddhism continues to cast strong influence on daily life. The heart of social and religious life of people of Thailand lies in the temple or Wat, which apart from being the driving force in the morals of Thai communities; it is traditionally served other purposes, such as the village shelter, school, hospital, dispensary and community center. As a symbol of spiritual center of the community, people often go to Wat for their inner serenity and some go to Wat for art and cultural studies. Buddhism has provided an incomparable artistic foundation to the Thai culture and to the country. The construction and architecture of the temples are full of history and story of the Buddhist religion, Thai culture or the country.
Meditation, one of the most popular aspects of Buddhism, is practiced regularly by numerous Thai as a means of promoting inner peace and happiness. No matter what is their religious belief, the visitors to Thailand can learn the fundamental of the meditation at several centers around the country. 

source: Thailand Travel Manual by TAT

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