Thailand is home to many different religions and ethnic groups and they all coexist peacefully. Religion continues to be a part of Thai culture and locals and immigrants enjoy religious freedom in every aspect of life. As you may have guessed, the main religion practiced in Thailand is Buddhism, but there are significant numbers of other religions as well. Today we will briefly talk about the most visible religions and their culture.
Buddhism: A large portion of the Buddhist population belong to the Theravada tradition, however, some Thais also adopted Chinese and folk beliefs such as ancestor worship. Thai architecture is highly inspired by Buddhism, as many of the country’s spectacular and beautiful temples are fitted with tall domes. Monks are highly respected in Thai culture and you will see saffron-robed monks all over if you look carefully. Giving alms to monks is a part of Thais everyday life.
Islam: While the vast majority of Thai people are Buddhist, there is a significant percentage of Muslims living around Thailand. Around half of them live in the Southern Thai provinces of Narathiwat, Yala, Satun and Pattani and some districts of Songkhla. Most of them are Sunnis and rests are Shi’ite. There are many beautiful mosques around Bangkok and extending around the countryside. Halal foods can be easily found in almost every food court and of course in Muslim neighborhoods in Thailand.
Christianity: Christianity is also a well-known religion in Thailand as there are some missionaries long established here and many schools have been set up with Christian values. Brothers of Saint Gabriel founded many educational institutes around Thailand for example, Assumption Universityof Thailand (ABAC), which is the first and the biggest international university in Thailand, Assumption College and Saint Gabriel’s College. There are even Christian churches located around if you keep an eye out. Thailand’s Department of Religion has formally recognized five major Christian denominations: the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptists, the Seventh-day Adventists, the Church of Christ in Thailand, and the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand.
Hinduism: Another large percentage of the population is Hindu and live intermixed throughout the country. Many of them have their origin in India. There are some eye-catching Hindu temples around Silom area. Bangkok also has a Little India which is located at Phahurat Market. You can find a wide variety of Indian foods and spices available there. Hindus celebrate Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja etc. and also Holi festival in Thailand so if you are visiting at this time make sure to stop by for the special events.
Sikhism: Thailand has a significant Sikh community as well. Many of them are Thai citizens and have been living here for multiple generations. There are many Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) in the country. You can find Sikh people living in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Khon Kaen, Lampang, Korat, and Phuket. They are often described as the most integrated community in Thailand.
The Thai law provides full freedom of religion and Thais respect each other’s religion.That’s another reason that makes Thailand the land of smiles.