Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Culture of Thailand

Much of Thailand’s culture comes from the ethnic Thai people.  One of the most important influences on Thai culture has been Buddhism. Many of the traditions and beliefs of the people in Thailand stem directly from Buddhist principles.  Hinduism has also made important contributions to Thai culture, and the close links between Thailand and India can be seen in art, literature, and in many Thai customs.  The cultures of nearby Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and China have also played an important role in forming the traditions of Thailand, as have indigenous belief systems such as Animism.Of Thailand’s nearly 70 million people, roughly two thirds are from Thai ethnic groups. Although the ethnic Thai people can be divided into dozens of different subgroups, their traditions, languages, and cultures differ only slightly. This leads to a population with a strong sense of shared traditions and cultural identity.The remaining third of the population is made up primarily of Chinese, as well as various minorities including Vietnamese, Khmer, Hmong, and Mein. Even among these diverse ethnic groups, the Thai language is widely spoken and understood, and the Thai script is often used in place of traditional writing styles.

Since the 1950s, Thailand’s government has made efforts to preserve and strengthen the sense of national culture and national identity. During the 1980s and 1990s, however, Thailand saw a resurgence in local culture and traditions.  Although there is still a strong national identity, local food, dances, music, celebrations, and beliefs have begun to play a more important role in Thai life.Appointments are necessary and should be made one month in advance.It is good idea to send a list of who will be attending the meeting and their credentials so that Thais know the relative status of the people attending the meeting and can plan properly.
    You should arrive at meetings on time as it signifies respect for the person you are meeting.Although most Thais will try to be on time, punctuality is a personal trait.Always send an agenda and material about your company as well as data to substantiate your position prior to the meeting. Allow sufficient time for the material to be reviewed and digested.Remain standing until told where to sit. The hierarchical culture has strict rules about rank and position in the group.Written material should be available in both English and Thai.
    You must be patient.Business attire is conservative.Men should wear dark coloured conservative business suits.Women should wear conservative business suits or dresses. Women need not wear hosiery.
    Since Thai's judge you on your clothing and accessories, ensure that your shoes are always highly polished.Thailand is a stronghold of Buddhism.Buddhists believe that life does not begin with birth and end with death, but rather that every person has several lives based upon the lessons of life not yet learned and acts committed (karma) in previous lives.Buddhists believe that selfishness and craving result in suffering and that compassion and love bring happiness and well-being.The true path to peace is to eliminate all desire, a condition which Buddhists define as 'nirvana', an indescribable state free of desire, suffering, or further rebirth, in which a person simply is, and is completely at one with his surroundings.

Buddhism is practised in Thailand by over 90% of the population.Thai dining etiquette refers to the traditional and proper behaviors of Thai people while eating. Since Thai society has a lot of big families, so having a meal together and sharing the food between members of the family is Thai traditional dining style. Generally, Thais eat rice as the main food and share the rice side dishes with one another.Traditionally, in Thailand, people have a meal on the floor mat and eat the food with their right hands. The rice dishes are on the outer circle while the shared dishes are in the center of the circle with shared spoons to transfer the side dish food to their own rice dish.In the reign of King Mongkut , King Chulalongkorn the Great. Prince Chulalongkorn at that time, was educated by an English woman, courted Western diplomats and leaders and travelled abroad, observe and learn the western dining and he found out the fork and knife are not suitable for Thai food (no need to chop anything, he introduced the fork and spoon and so began the use of cutlery in Thailand. Thais use the fork to push the food onto the spoon (right hand), which then goes into your mouth instead of making the meat stable for the knife function.Nowadays, Thai dining is mixed with various countries’ dining cultures, so Thai people use a lot of styles to eat not only with spoon and fork one but also chopstick, knife and bare hand as well.In central Thailand, sitting on a chair, eating at a table and using a fork, spoon and shared spoon are longstanding customs. For Thai rich family dining, variously shaped napkins are added on the table and also employ waiters or waitresses to serve the food and beverages beside the table. For some poor people the shared spoon is not used.The local people eat on a floor mat. The dishes are placed on the center of it. They sit in the circle and traditionally eat with their bare hands. The drinking water is contained in “Kan”or”Jok”, (little Thai cup.) Nowadays, fork and spoon are used instead of bare hands. Sitting on a chair and eating at a table now predominates. There are only few local people who still preserve the original dinning style.Thai people eat using the fork and spoon combo method. The spoon acts as the main tool and the fork is the supporting tool pushing the food onto the spoon and the shared spoon is the main tool to scoop the food from shared dish to rice dish. Some people use their own spoon to scoop the food from the shared dish directly but it is not a good dining manner for Thais because they concern about sanitation issue. If the shared dish is curry, it is transferred to an individual little cup first. Then they sip the soup from the spoon. Sipping it from the cup directly is not proper, Moreover, making noise during eating and sipping is impolite in Thailand. On the other hand, talking during eating is not prohibited. However, Thai food menus is include a lot of fish and spices of which some parts are not for eating—splitting the food is the general behavior for Thais. Splitting on the spoon, and put them on the edge of the dish or provided dish for the trash is Thai general practice.After finishing eating, placing the spoon and fork down close together on the bowl/plate, gathering the trash to one side of their dish and stacking the empty plates at the side of the table makes the waiters realize that customer(s) require them to clean the table.Since there are a lot Chinese families in Thailand, the Chinese culture is mixed with the Thai culture. Sticking up sticks, poking a stick or skewer into food on a plate and having it stick.


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