Sunday, 25 January 2009

Happy New Year...again

Only the 25th day of 2009 but already Thailand is celebrating another the festivities of another new year, this time it's the start of a new Chinese calendar.

It's massively singificant here with temples opening up fayres, families buying feasts of food to offer to the spirits and the continual sound of firecrackers going off from one house or another.

I find it particularly interesting that Thailand celebrates the Western and Chinese new years in addition to its own (Songkran) - 13-15 April this year.

This curious situation reflects the melting pot that is Thai culture. Everything from language, food and architecture to ethnicity, music, religion and thinking has its influence from one culture or another.

Take Buddhism for example.

The majority of ethnic Thais practice Theravada Buddhism, a varien born out of India following principle of the teaching of the elders. Many of Thailand's neighbours, such as Laos and Burma, share this faith but it is also the religion of 70% of Sri Lankans.

It is strange and interesting to think that Thailand and Sri Lanka can share the same religious identity and yet be so ethnically, politically and socially different.

Like most countries in Asia, Thailand has strong links with China. Around 10% of Thailand's population is classified as ethnically Chinese. There are a great many Chinese who still speak and write their native tongue and practice a range of Chinese customs - there is even a Chinatown in Bangkok, just like the one in London!

One such Chinese-Thai is a close friend of the family who I know well. It is interesting to see his entrepeneurial ways, compared to 'normal' Thais, and decadent family house which looks more like a hotel in rural China, not to mention his appearance.

I could go on about China's influence on Thailand but my little man won't learn English by himself and the sun is out in force too**.

Happy Chinese New Year to you all!

 I also am not in possession of a doctorate in geneology, Asian cultural influences or peopling so I will direct you to Wikipedia where you can read that the origin of Thailand's native Mon-Khymer people is thought to be mid-China, and much more.

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