Culture of Thailand - A Unique Cultural Blend Of many Asian Countries
Thailand is famous for its mouth-watering food, monasteries, stunning landscapes, pristine beaches and tuk-tuks. Rightly known as the ‘Land of Smiles’, natives here are extremely friendly. The culture of Thailand is diverse with significant influences from Burma, India and China. With the tourist industry booming in here - the vibrant culture here guarantees you to carry on some unforgettable memories.
Thailand’s Customs and Traditions
Thailand’s fascinating history shows its influence on customs and traditions. The traditional Thai culture derives many of its practices from Theravada Buddhism. Though you can sense a perfect blend of traditions from countries like China, India, Korea and many other South Asian countries. The reason being the Ayutthaya kingdom that was extremely welcoming to foreign traders from Asia, letting them set up villages outside the capital. Later European countries like France, Denmark became their trading partners.
Some of the customs followed by the Thai people are:
A gesture of saying ‘Goodbye’ is known as Wai. There are many versions of it. The specific type of Wai is performed according to one’s social status. Also, who will do it first is decided by the social standards.
Visiting someone’s home without any gift or entering a home without taking off your shoes is considered as a sign of disrespect.
Thai people are extremely touch-sensitive. Hugging and holding hands with them must be avoided. Also, touching their heads is a big no-no.
Raising your voice at Thai people in public is extremely unwelcoming and is a sign of great disrespect.
Architecture of Thailand
Having influences from many foreign countries, Thailand has undergone major architectural reforms. The magnificence of the architecture there holds strong to the culture of Thailand and can be realized in the ruins of many temples and palaces. From temples in typical Buddhist fashion in Ayutthaya to sky-soaring skyscrapers in Bangkok, Thailand is bound to captivate you at every turn. Bamboo and wooden houses built on stilts with rivers and canals flowing alongside them are simply awe-inspiring. Many European influenced buildings shop houses are dotted throughout Thailand’s landscape. The capital city beautifully blends modern architecture with traditional ones.
Some of the most famous architectural pieces are:
Wat Chedi Luang Varavihara
Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)
Big Buddha Phuket
The Sanctuary Of Truth (Prasat Sut Ja-Tum)
Jim Thompson House
The world-famous Thai cuisine has derived its influences mainly from South China, India and other Asian countries. Rice, spices and coconut are the base of Thai cuisine. Similar to Indian food, Thai dishes are also hot and spicy. Though their intricacy and careful choice of ingredients bring out some of the most mouth-watering food on the planet. Non-veg food also plays a significant role due to Muslim influence in southern coastal areas. Many hawkers will be selling some amazing snacks, which are also common in here. 7 Thai dishes in the ‘World’s 50 Best Food’ is the answer as to why Thai people have five meals a day.
Most popular Thai dishes are:
Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup)
Tom Kha Kai (Chicken in Coconut Soup)
Pad Thai (Thai style Fried Noodles)
Khao Pad (Fried Rice)
Gaeng Keow Wan Kai (Green Chicken Curry)
Festivals of Thailand
Cheerful Thai people would not have been so without the colourful and dazzling festivals that are an integral part of the culture of Thailand. Most exhilarating festivals include the Songkran (Water festival), Boon Bang Fai (Rocket festival) and Yi Peng (Lantern festival) festivals.
Songkran festival is celebrated every year on 13th April which also happens to be the Thai New year. Splashing water on loved ones is one of the key activities. It symbolizes the cleansing of all of one's sins done in the past year. Stunning dance performances and parades will await you on the streets. There is also a competition held for the Miss Songkran title.
The Rocket festival is mainly celebrated by the farming community of Thailand. Rockets are flaunted all over the city before launching it. The highest climbing rocket will earn their owners a cash prize. The rockets are sent to please Gods for showering abundant rainfall.
The most spectacular scenes can be captured during the Lantern festival. The sky illuminates while people release paper lanterns as a symbol of warding off the mishaps of the past year. It is mainly celebrated in the city of Chiang Mai.
The Chinese New Year is celebrated all over Thailand because of a significant Chinese population. Traditional Dragon dancers will enthral you with their stunning performances. Delicious Chinese food and firecrackers will ensure all present will have a merry time.
Thailand’s Folk Dance and Music Scene
Thailand’s dances have its origins from Indonesia and Burma. Their elegant dance styles enabled various neighbouring countries to adopt a few of its practices. There are different sorts of dances for numerous purposes like celebrating festivals, religious functions, seasonal activities and enacting short tales from Ramayana. Broadly speaking there are 6 different dance types namely Khon, Lakhon, Ram Wong, Lakhon lek, Li-Khe and Nang Yai. Fawn Thai is another form of traditional dance that had recently become famous. It is mainly performed by females with a group of musicians playing at the background. There are five different types of it. Costumes in most of the folk dances are traditional with some being heavily ornamented. Thais have a rich musical culture. The earlier music chorus was Piphat and Khruang Sai. It mostly accompanied drama and folk dances. Luk Thung, Mor Lam and Kantrum are some of the other famous traditional music folklore. Western music garnered attention in the 30s. Jazz was widely accepted among the Thai people and it is still very much present.
Arts and Crafts in Thailand
Thailand’s art and craft has derived its roots mainly from Buddhism. You can see many sculptures of Buddha, with stories surrounding him carved on temples. Though it is not only limited to it. Beautiful silk, khon masks, puppets, stone carvings form an integral part of Thai art. While modern Thai art is a perfect blend of contemporary and traditional art forms. Statues of Gods and Goddesses, mirror art are some examples of it. Thai artworks got recognition worldwide, depicting its brilliance and is what keeps strong the culture of Thailand.
Religion in Thailand
Over 95% of the people in Thailand follow Theravada Buddhism. Though it some influence from China. Traditional Thailand is in Buddhism theme just because of its humongous number of followers. Islam is the second most widely followed religion. The Muslim population is scattered throughout Thailand with mostly residing in Bangkok and Southern parts. Other religions like Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism are present in lesser numbers. In spite of Thailand being a multi-diverse country, people live here harmoniously.
Be it the world famous Thai cuisine or the exhilarating festivals or the unique folk dances, you will definitely enjoy this ever enthusiastic landscape that is the culture of Thailand.