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Religions in Thailand

Thai law has a number of special sections concerning religious offenses, and these cover not only Buddhism, the religion of the majority of the people, but also any other faiths represented in the Kingdom. It is, for instance unlawful to commit any act, by any means whatever, to an object or a place of religious worship of any community in a manner likely to insult The religion. Similarly, "whoever causes any disturbance at an assembly lawfully engaged in the performance of religious worship of religious ceremonies" is subject to punishment, as well as "whoever dresses or uses a symbol showing that he is a priest or novice, holyman or clergyman of any religion unlawfully in order to make another person believe he is such person."

In less legal language, here are a few tips on what to do and what not to do on a visit to a religious place:

Dress neatly. Don't go shirtless, or in shorts, pants, or other unsuitable attire. If you look at the Thais around you, you'll see the way they would prefer you to be dressed -- which, in fact, is probably not very different from the way you'd dress in a similar place back home.

It's all right to wear shoes while walking around the compound of a Buddhist temple, but not inside the chapel where the principal Buddha image is kept. Don't worry about dirt when you have to take them off; the floors of such places are usually clean.

In a Muslim mosque, men should wear hats and women should be well-covered with slacks or a long skirt, a long-sleeved blouse buttoned to the neck, and a scarf over the hair. All should remove their shoes before entering the mosque and should not be present if there is a religious gathering.

Buddhist priests are forbidden to touch or to be touched by a woman or to accept anything from the hand of one. If a woman has to give anything to a monk or novice, she first hands it to a man, who then presents it. Or in case of a woman who wants to present it with her hand, the monk or novice will spread out a piece of saffron robe or handkerchief in front of him, and the woman will lay down the material on the robe which is being held at one end by the monk or novice.

All Buddha images, large or small, ruined or not, are regarded as sacred objects. Hence, don't climb up on one to take a photograph or, generally speaking, do anything that might show a lack of respect.

Buddhist Meditation
Suan Mok, a 120-acre forest temple in Chaiya district, Surat Thani province, some 580 kilometres South of Bangkok, attracts and accepts meditators from all over the world. Meditation opportunities are also found in Bangkok, particularly at Wat Mahathat (facing Sanam Luang), Wat Pak Nam, Wat Chonprathan Rangsit, Wat Phrathammakai and Banglamphu's Wat Bowon Nivet where English language instruction is available.

Free Buddhist Teaching.
The Wat (Temple) Sri Baket in Nong Khai is making a unique offer to foreign visitors who have an interest in the Thai people and their way of life - Buddhism. You can live with the monks and students at the Wat FREE and be provided with the basic amenities and two meals a day, breakfast and lunch - the monks only eat twice and consume nothing after mid-day.

To understand Thai culture and their way of life one must first of all understand the basis upon which this is founded - Buddhism. A healthy body is achieved through exercise but it also needs to be cleansed, purified of toxins before it can be developed. The same applies to the mind, which must be first of all cleansed and relaxed in order that it can accept new ideas. This is achieved through meditation.

During your stay you will live with the monks and live and eat as they do. If you need an evening meal you will be free to go into the town for it. You will be taught first of all the means of meditation and then the basic tenets of Buddhism - A New Freedom.

However, make no mistake, this is no cushy means to a free bed and food - you will be expected to take this offer seriously in a friendly, peaceful and scholarly environment. The teaching will be in English.

For further information:

Tel: +66 402 423343

The address of the Wat:

Wat Sri Baket,
T. Nai Maung,
A.Muang,
Nong Khai, 43000
Thailand

 
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