Beginning

Originally, Siam and most of South East Asia was predominantly Hindu and Mahayana Buddhist. About the 11th century AD, the Siamese were then introduced to Theravada Buddhism. Theravada was brought over from Sri Lanka and then taught to the Siamese. In the present day, there are about 61 million followers of the Therevada Buddhism religion.

external image ThaiMonk.jpg

Hinduism

Before Theravada Buddhism reached South East Asia, Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism were the dominant religions. Hindus are polythestic, meaning they believe in many gods and not just one.
Today there are many Hindu followers, mostly in India.

Theravada Buddhism

Today Thailand has the most followers of the Theravada Religion, where 90% of Thailand are Theravada Buddhists. Religion has a big influence on daily life and their lifestyles. Monks have very strict rules to follow, in total there are 227 rules. All Buddhists must follow the four noble truths. These are in order starting with, suffering exists, suffering arises from attachments to desires, suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases, and lastly freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path.

Sources:
Essentials of Buddhism. 8 Oct. 2006 <http://www.buddhaweb.org>.

Picture:
Northfield Buddhist Meditation Center. 10 Oct. 2006
<http://www.northfieldbuddhists.org/weblog/index.php?cat=5>.