Thailand for YOU   Buddhist Religion and Thai Society

In Buddha We Trust

Buddhist religionBuddhism isn't just a dominant religion, but the outlook, the moral philosophy, and the way of life in the Thai kingdom renowned as the Land of Smiles. Nearly 90% of Thais are Buddhists and Buddha temples with marble stones and golden statues are the common sights all over Thailand. Even when just passing by, Thais bow down to the temples with a great deal of respect. Virtually every Thai household has a special place with a miniature of the Spirit House (also called the House of Spirits), which is where the family conducts their daily Buddhist rituals and religious ceremonies. Masterfully handcrafted by career professional artists, such topnotch Thai Spirit Houses are often visibly staged in key Hotels, office or residential buildings, and in notable business places.

A glance at Wat Pho ౼ the temple of the Reclining Buddha, MPEG movie clip (7 sec., 635 KB).
Or, click on the following link for a short movie clip in MPEG (8 sec., 729 KB) ౼ nice pictures with sweet sounds of a Thai Ritual Dance performed at the revered Erawan Shrine in Bangkok.
Click me for instructions.
You'll find more MPEG movie clips dispersed over www.th4u.com.

House of Spirits

Speaking of the Thai Spirit House, saan phra phum in Thai, it is important to mention that worship of spirits was widely practiced throughout Asia long before Buddhism first entered into Thai life some 2.500 years ago. Today, many of these animistic beliefs are interlaced with Buddhism and it is here that the Thai Spirit House makes its entrance.

According to Thai folklore, the spirits residing in the Spirit House are regarded as the Guardian Spirits of the Land. Their main role is to watch over and protect the home and its residents. Thai Spirit Houses provide a favorable shelter for the spirits to prevent bad luck or misfortune.

The House of Spirits manifests the most fundamental spiritual side in Thai people's life. Paying respect to the Spirit House is a matter of instinct and ritual. Nowadays in Thailand, the devotion to Buddhism most often shows itself in rituals within a temple, while Thai devotion to spirits, and especially the Guardians of the Land, most often shows itself in their front yards.

Buddhist Meditation

Until today, it is a social requirement for every Thai youngster and sometimes even grown men to undergo sanctified religious training. They shave their heads, dress in saffron, white, or orange robes (as monks in the picture above), and guided by monastic principles and rules practice the ethical Buddha philosophy of enlightenment in the Buddhist monasteries for a couple of weeks or months.

Meditation is one of the most essential aspects of Buddhism practiced regularly by many Thai Buddhists and even secular persons as means of promoting inner peace and happiness.

Many travelers have been impressed by the relaxed and decorous environment in every Buddhist temple all over Thailand. The devotees are reclining with happy, compassionate smiles. The priests are all dignity and kindness. No doubt, Buddhists believe a man by good works holds on his bunya (merits) to balance against his bapa (sins).

Several spiritual meditation centers in Bangkok offer classes in English for foreigners interested in finding out more about Buddhism and Buddhist meditation. These include the following:

  • Intl. Buddhist Meditation Centre in Wat Mahathat (Tel: 02 623 6325)
  • World Fellowship of Buddhists (Tel: 02 251 1188 - 90)
  • Buddhist Association of Thailand (Tel: 02 281 9563 - 4)
  • Association for the Science of Creative Intelligence (Tel: 02 258 3257)
  • Young Buddhist Association of Thailand (Tel: 02 413 1706)
  • House of Dhamma (Tel: 02 511 0439).

Buddhist Rituals

There is a daily ritual consisting of monks who in the early mornings walk around the streets with a begging bowl collecting food from faithful citizens, who candidly believe that by giving alms to monks, they are blessed by their Gods.

Buddhist Monks
The Sedate Atmosphere at Wat Pho in Early Morning

Keep in mind that Thai people regard the Lord Buddha side-by-side with
their beloved King Bhumibol with passion and respect bordering on awe.

For additional information on the Thai monarchy, please refer to
HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej 60 Years on The Throne Anniversary Celebrations.
Religion in Thailand

For information on the marriage and rituals of traditional wedding ceremonies in Thailand, please take a look at the Thai Wedding title.
You'll learn not only the perception and literal role of the Buddhist religion in Thai marriage but also whether:   Is it legal?   What is dowry?   How come?

Information and Visa Application Inquiries

Ordinary People of The Smiling Kingdom

Most Thai folks ain't only friendly, polite, and tolerant, but they are also remarkably kind and patient. Their ability to live happily without resolving a contradictory ultimate question of existence stuns Westerners. Despite a striking gap between the rich and poor, somehow, it seems that everyone knows and accepts his part in the diverse and socially unequal Thai society, assorted of various socio-economic groups. Folks try to face up their daily life with a sense that all human activities should have an element of fun. The Thai faith is to avoid worries about the future, to feel that life is a pleasure, and to endure day-to-day difficulties without getting too frazzled. Adhered to the famous Thai smiles, there is a special word sanook, used to express a sense of pleasure while souls having a fine time or enjoy being in a good mood. Another popular expression often heard by visitors is mai pen rai, which means never mind ౼ it doesn't matter, the one that serves well to illustrate the apparent ambivalence of the Thai people's nature. For information on Thai society customs and cultural traditions, refer to the page entitled Thai Culture and Traditions.

Muay Thai ౼ Fighting With Bad Intentions

Muay Thai
Muay Thai (Kickboxing)
Visitors highly appreciate the pleasing and often smiling hospitality of the Thai folks who normally behave toward foreigners as if saying: Don't be a stranger in Thailand.
Indeed, their smiling faces make it very easy to establish contacts. But, don't be shortsighted. The Thai kingdom is also the birthplace of Muay Thai ౼ a particularly wild and fierce form of kickboxing, where fighters (not boxers) are incredibly aggressive in their attacks and use every part of their bodies to try and knock out their opponents. Muay Thai is the nation's most popular sport. Prospective fighters start training as little toddlers, and under teenagers, at times, they behave in a boxing ring like a virtual macho. It is quite common to see fights between kids of either sex. When visiting the Muay Thai boxing stadiums, it is kinda exciting to watch the gestures of Thai fans and the manner they eagerly cheer their favorites. Furthermore, being hooked by gambling (although it is prohibited by Thai law), folks often try to entice you to choose a fighter to place a bet on.

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