Buddhism in Thailand
A Brief Introduction
During the first Thai kingdom, the Sukhothai period, Buddha Dhamma was first pursued and took firm root. From then on, Buddhism has been regarded as Thai’s state religion. Thai Buddhism is largely of the Theravada school. Around 95% of Thailand’s people are Buddhists. Today, there are numerous Buddhist structures and temples scattered about in every corner of Thailand.
A temple is the center of a village, for it is both spiritual and educational center. Buddhism is injected into every aspect of Thai daily life. Nowadays, with the development of technology and the modern world, Thai people’s conventional lifestyle has changed. In spite of that, with their commitment to the Buddhist philosophy, Thai people still follow Buddhist teachings of simplicity and moderation to lead their life.
In Thailand, Buddhism is a religion of peace and has a profound influence in shaping the peaceful and tolerant nature of Thai people. Thai people’s well-known smile, friendliness and relaxed attitude towards life are all due to their deep perceptions of Buddhism.
Worship of Thai Buddhism
- It is a vital way to bring peace to one’s mind. While worshipping, a Buddhist must focus on the virtues of the Triple Holy Gems, being the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. In the end, one should express one’s devotions and words of kindness to all living beings.
- In each Thai Buddhist family, there is an altar that is composed of the Buddha image, a pot for incense sticks, a pair of candlesticks and a pair of flower vases.
- Thai Buddhists should worship twice a day: in the morning and at night.
1. Morning Rituals: Firstly, light the candle on the right of the Buddha image, and switch the candle to the left; Secondly, light 3 incense sticks, sit very still with one’s body straight and firm and then bow down with one’s forehead, palms and knees flushing with the floor. Finally, chant one’s respect for the Triple Holy Gems and bow down three times.
2. Night Rituals: Light candles and three incense sticks, bow down, chant one’s eulogy to show reverence for the Triple Holy Gems and recite the virtues of Lord Buddha, ending by expressing good wishes to all living beings.
Facts and Figures on Thai Buddhism
- Buddhists: 94.57%
- Muslims: 4.65%
- Christians : 0.72%
- Hindus, Sikhs and others: 0.05%
- Thai Buddhist Monasteries: 32,710
- Thai Buddhist monks: 267,818
- Thai Buddhist novices: 103,026
- Buddhist Universities: MahÃ makut Buddhist University and MahÃ chulalongkorn Buddhist University