Thai Culture

Thailand’s culture has changed immensely throughout the ages. Thailand was relatively isolated in the Sukhothai era and was more contemporaneous during the Ayutthaya era, which was impacted by different types of inspiration throughout Asia. Some Southeast Asian, Chinese, Burmese, Indian, and several other influencers still appear in customary Thai culture. Animism, Westernization, and Buddhism have also played a meaningful part in influencing the modern culture of today. National Thai culture is perceived in other ways in different parts of Thailand where diverse provincial cultures are present, by such as ones of Portuguese origin, Persian origin, the Lanna, Isan, including Chinese origin and, under the rule of King Chulalongkorn in the late 1800s, European trends of nationalism have begun to influence the Thai culture even more. Nevertheless, the rise of civic culture peaked just after the Siamese revolution of 1932, in which several authoritarian routines were beginning to implement more regulation of a person’s lifestyle and culture, particularly under the reign of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram. The culture of Thailand today is a mixture of numerous regional rituals from all over the country, not to mention the Buddhist values and oriental tendencies, as in various regions of Asia. Dominion and the royal institution of the Chakri dynasty are still very much respected, according to the early Siamese civilization. However, the societal standards of Thailand are usually more collective and religious than are the societal standards of other Southeast Asian civilizations, which have been influenced by the western countries. The old-style traditions and legends of the Thai population were collected/translated by Phya Anuman Rajadhon in the 1900s during a period when modernism was significantly changing Thailand and many forms of tradition were either lost or altered to fit into a more contemporary lifestyle. Nevertheless, the struggle toward refinement was engrained in olden Siamese customs and consisted of promoting anything sophisticated and evading tastelessness as a primary effort of Thai people. A very unique Thai custom is the wai. This is used to greet one another, when leaving, for simple recognition, or for supplementing an apology. This can be conducted in many ways, depending on the approximate status of the people involved. Generally, this greeting includes a praying-like motion with either hand – derived from the Añjali Mudrā from the Indian subcontinent – and it includes a small bow. The Wai greeting is often supplemented with a content smile which indicates a friendly disposition with an agreeable disposition. Thailand is frequently called ‘the land of smiles’ in tourism advertisements. Displays of romance in public areas are uncommon in Thai society, particularly between couples. Nowadays however, this is becoming more widely accepted, especially amongst the younger generation. Another distinguished public norm says that touching someone’s head is considered to be impolite. Additionally, it is considered impolite to place your feet above someone’s head – especially if the person is authoritative or in a higher social position. This is because Thailand residents believe the foot to be the filthiest part of the body and the head to be the most valued part of the body. This belief also impacts how Thai people sit on the floor – their feet always point away from other people, pushed off to the side, or behind them. Directing at something or touching someone with your feet is also thought to be rude. Displays of respect for the elders by the younger generation are very valuable in Thailand. Because a humble temperament is preferred, disagreements or acts of wrath tend to be avoided in the culture of Thailand. For this reason alone, anyone who is visiting this country is encouraged to be sure not to cause any disagreements or to act out of rage. Disagreements/disputes are expected to be carried out with a positive disposition and attempts should not be made to direct blame toward anyone. Thailand strongly emphasizes a notion that is known as sanuk – a belief that the lives of everyone are to be enjoyable. Due of this notion, Thailand’s residents are able to be somewhat lighthearted in their work and throughout everyday tasks. Possessing an optimistic personality when in a group setting is necessary in this culture, as well. Often times, the Thai culture handles conflicts, slight errors, or unfortunate events just by reciting the phrase ‘mai pen rai,’ which is written ไม่ เป็น ไร and translates as ‘it doesn’t matter.’ This unanimous phrase indicates an effort to minimize conflicts, disagreements, or grievances. Giving a friendly smile and using the words ‘mai pen rai’ implies that the occurrence was not significant enough to incite any sort of dispute or shame. Respecting the hierarchical regime is of significant importance for Thai people. The tradition known as bun khun stresses the obligation toward parents, along with the obligation toward teachers, caretakers, and guardians. It is also thought to be uncouth to step on (any type of) Thai currency (Thai coins or bills.) Numerous Thai traditions are related to the exceptional status of monks of Thai society. The monks are prohibited from bodily interaction with women. Women are, therefore, encouraged to stand back as a monk passes so that any unintentional means of contact does not happen. Also, numerous techniques are used for ensuring that the appearance of contact between women and monks does not occur. Women who give donations to monks leave their offering at the monk’s feet or on a cloth that’s been lain on a table or on the ground. Ointments or powders that are supposed to hold a blessing are put on the women by monks who use a stick or the end of a candle. Amateurs will either sit or stand, holding their head below the level than that of a monk. In order to make this easier to achieve, monks will sit on an elevated platform during ceremonies when in the temple. Also when in the temple, people are discouraged from pointing their feet toward images of the Buddha. Memorials that are inside Thai homes are situated in such a way to guarantee that the feet do not direct themselves toward this religious icon, or a shrine is not placed on the same wall as the head of the bed when the house is not big enough to take the shrine out of the bedroom altogether. It is respectful of one to take off their shoes prior to coming into a house, or prior to entering the sacred parts of a temple and not to walk onto the doorway.