Learn about the Buddhist religion
An ornate decorated golden Buddhist temple is one of the main images that is associated with visiting Thailand. Statistically, Thailand is a country where well over 90% of its residents follow a form of Buddhism. However, even though Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, religious freedom is fully accepted, and throughout Bangkok you’ll notice a diversity of religions represented.
Walking around in Bangkok, you might see a Thai Buddhist temple, then come across a Chinese Taoist temple, a Catholic cathedral, a Muslim mosque, and a Hindu shrine, all on the same walk. Learning more about the religions of Thailand helps us gain a larger understanding of Thailand, its people, and its history.
Let’s briefly cover some of the main religions in Thailand, that you’re likely to come across while you’re in Bangkok.
Buddhism in Thailand is considered the official religion of the country, and in many ways, Buddhism is intertwined into Thai culture. In Bangkok you’ll probably visit quite a few temples, Wat Phra Kaew (temple connected to the Grand Palace), Wat Arun (temple of the Rising Sun), and Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha) are three major historical and cultural temples within old Bangkok, but there are countless others as well. The majority of Thais follow the Theravada school of Buddhism.
Buddhism has many ties and parallels with Hinduism dating back thousands of years. At some Buddhist temples in Bangkok, you’ll see Hindu deities represented, and even Hindu rituals being practiced. Ganesha, the Hindu deity known for removing obstacles and having wisdom and success and depicted as an elephant, is one of the most common Hindu deities that you’ll notice in Hindu Buddhist places of worship throughout Bangkok.
China has long been a major influence in the culture of Thailand, and many Chinese principles and parts of religion have been blended into the Thai-Chinese culture in Bangkok. Along with traditional looking Thai Buddhist temples, you’ll find numerous Chinese temples in Bangkok as well, many of them mixing Chinese religions like Confucianism and Taoism with Buddhism. There are many Chinese temples scattered throughout Chinatown, but also around Bangkok, especially in Chinese dominated areas of town. Chinese Buddhism in Thailand often follows the Mahayana school of Buddhism, but it also pulls many beliefs and customs from Confucianism and Taoism.
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