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Saturday, September 15, 2007

A DISTINCT SOUTHEAST ASIAN RELIGION?

“Do you have a Lord Brahma image?” I asked the old Indian lady manning the shop in Kuala Lumpur’s Little India.

She only gave me an unsure look and smiled. I was scuffling back and forth the aisle barely containing the Ganesha images in my arms and I so need to find Lord Brahma’s small figurine so I can go home.

Seem like she’s not gonna answer me so I went on looking through hundreds of stuffs in the shop.

After 10 more minutes… "No, we don’t have.” -- OH THANK YOU LADY! *And you figured the answer after 10 years? Ha!* I went up to her to pay for my stuffs.

“Are you Hindu?” she asked me. I said “No, I’m not. I’m Buddhist… Well, sort of…” Handing her my Ganesha images. “How much for everything?” I added.

I know what she was thinking all along -- I don’t look like South Asian, I’m not a Hindu but I hoard Ganesha images and looking for more Brahmas. So, I took the initiative to explain before she spends the rest of her lifetime figuring out what in the world am I.

“I’m from Thailand.” I told her. “Although we are mainly Buddhists, we revere Lord Ganesha, Lord Brahma and the Trimutri…We have a version of the Ramayana and we know Hanuman, Erawan, Indra… ” mentioning every familiar Hindu characters to ring the biggest bell on her ears.

Then she was like “well-I’ll-be-damned!” giving me the “bewildered-little-girl” look. And I was like “cool-isn’t-it?” giving her the best Thai smile I can ever display.

A major part of Thai culture is defined by Buddhism -- but Hindu deities are part of our beliefs too. We share the same concept with the Laotians, the Burmese and the Khmers.


When Buddhism and Hinduism are assimilated together –
is this a distinct Southeast Asian religion?


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5 Comments:

Q The Conqueror said...

I can't relate. I was brought up a Christian Pinoy living near a lot of muslims, while still following Chinese traditions and native beliefs. Haha.

chase said...

i've read a lot of Buddhist stuff.
and i'm very much interested on the religion and practices itself.
i want to be convert. =)

Hanifa said...

It was actually intriguing me for a long time now. Why is it?

Thanks for the Ramadhan greeting, by the way.

Erique Fat Owl said...

Hm, a distinct southeast asian religion? Well, there's the Kejawen religion of Java. It's not really a region because it has no doctrine. It's more like a belief. Well, I guess all religions in S.E.A is 'imported'...

f.ckangsarap said...

Actually, the knowledge isnt really widespread but a lot of anthropologists have concluded that Filipino animism has a lot of traces of Hinduism. In fact, a lot of Filipino words are based on sanskrit.

For example, the word "diwa" which means "essence" is based in Sanskrit. And there are a lot of other words like that, based in Sanskrit. For Filipino beliefs, the more metaphysical the concept/word, the more likely it is to be based on the Hindi language.

Anyway, it's something worth studying more.

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