Aspects of thai buddhist culture

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Aspects of Thai Buddhist culture

CHAPTER V

Thai Culture

At the outset of this study I had intended to have two sections in the final chapter, one section detailing the Buddhist roots of all things Thai and the other showing Hindu / Indic influence. This idea has been abandoned by the author due to the limited ‘solely’ Buddhist influence. There are many aspects of Thai culture that have combined elements of other countries such as China, Laos etc but I have chosen to limit the comparisons to Buddhist / Hindu wherever possible.

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The study will instead focus on detailing the aspects of influence and state whether they have a combined influence or whether they have been influenced by only one of the subjects.

The reader will by now appreciate the massive scope of Hinduism and as such it will prove very difficult to find aspects of Thai Buddhist culture that do not have at least some basis in Hinduism. The common origin of the Indian sub-continent and the antiquity of Hinduism make such a subjective study difficult. For this reason I undertook a survey of many Thai people, including but not limited to, my friends, my students, neighbours, monks, etc.

I asked them to make a list of 20 things that they considered to be Thai or that which they thought might be perceived by foreign visitors as representative of their country and culture. The answers were varied (and, at times amusing due to language) and from the answers they gave I have composed a list of the results. (shown on next page). The list has been arranged alphabetically and I have limited the list to the most common answers. The list may have been influenced by regional representation as many of the people gave regional answers such as Isan, or the rocket festival. The answers were unprompted by the author and I feel that the list is accurate for the purpose of this study.

  1. Almsround by the Monks
  2. Arts and Crafts
  3. Boat Races / Royal Barge Procession
  4. Buddhism
  5. Elephants & Buffaloes
  6. Isan / Isarn
  7. Monuments
  8. Mai Pen Rai !
  9. Offerings / Merit Making
  10. Rain Dance
  11. Respect for Royalty
  12. Rocket Festival
  13. Royalty
  14. Temples / Shrines
  15. Thai Smile / Friendliness
  16. The Wai ( Thai Greeting )
  17. Thai Boxing
  18. Thai Festivals & Ceremonies
  19. Thai Dance / Thai Dress
  20. Thai Food / Fruit Sculpture
  21. Thai language
  22. Thai literature
  23. Thai Massage / Traditional Thai medicine
  24. Thai music / musical instruments
  25. Thai Silk
  26. Tuk Tuk ( 3 wheel vehicle)
  27. Sanuk !

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