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Buddhist Tour of Thailand

Buddhism is the national religion of Thailand. About 95% of Thai citizens are Buddhists. For them it is a way of life.

It is widely believed by Thais, that Emperor Ashoka sent Buddhist missionaries to Thailand in the 3rd century B.C. While this is quite possible, there is at present no evidence to support this belief. In the main, however, it came with Indian traders and settlers who for seven hundred years, frequented the shores of Burma, Malaya, Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia. The early settlers brought both Hinduism and Buddhism, as evidenced by numerous images of Vishnu, Shiva and Buddha found in early sites in Thailand.

The history of Thailand begins with the rise of the Sukhothai Kingdom in the thirteenth century, a State whose people were one in blood and language with the present Thais. Under devout kings of Ayudhya, Buddhism flourished, and by 1750 must have accumulated great quantities of sacred writings and valuable chronicles connected with the Monastic Order. Practically all such writings were destroyed in the devastation that attended the Burmese invasion of 1766-1767. Ayudhaya, the capital, fell after a siege of fourteen months during which fires and epidemics ravaged the city. However, by the 13th and 14th centuries monks from Sri Lanka succeeded in establishing Theravada Buddhism and it has remained the state religion ever since.

Buddhist temples in Thailand are characterized by tall golden stupas, and the Buddhist architecture of Thailand is similar to that in other Southeast Asian countries, particularly Cambodia and Laos, with which Thailand shares cultural and historical heritage.

Buddhists often worship in their own homes at a shrine with a Buddha image prominently placed. Many also visit temples on important religious days or their birthdays to chant, make offerings and listen to sermons.

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