Yaadhum Oorae (All Towns are One!)

9:55 PM Shanky 4 Comments

During my short tour to Bangkok over the past weeks and relentless wikitravel browsing I found striking similarities that Thailand shows vis-a-vis my mother land, India. I am definitely not comparing, merely contemplating about what brought about these similarities. Some of these similarities can be explained while others can be viewed as logical extensions and few others may be just stretching the fact (Globe or Gas, as we call it in B-school lingo). Here are a few observations from my side:

One of two great epics in India which enunciates how to rule a country through the portrayal of its protagonist - Lord Ram. The same exists here in Thailand in the name of Ramakian (Glory of Rama) and paintings of scenes from Ramakian adore the temple walls of Wat Phra Kew. Wiki says the following about Ramakien, "While the main story is identical to that of the Ramayana, many other aspects were transposed into a Thai context, such as the clothes, weapons, topography, and elements of nature, which are described as being Thai in style."

Wikipedia says, "Karthikai Deepam is a festival of lights celebrated by Tamil Hindus on the full moon day of Karthikai month (November/December), which is observed in every home and in every temple. This occurs on the day when the moon is in conjunction with the constellation Karthigai (Pleiades) and purnima." The Thais also have a similar custom during the same time of the year called Loy Krathong -"Loi Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. In the western calendar this usually falls in November." It also says this about the origin of the Loi Krathong - "...the originally Brahmanical festival was adapted by Buddhists in Thailand as a ceremony to honour the original Buddha, Siddhartha Guatama.

There are some awesome mythological creatures in Hindu religion. Candidates worth being depicted in badassoftheweek.com. One such noteworthy creature is Garuda - The eagle/Kite incarnation of devas with intelligence that equals humans. As you might have guessed by now, Garuda is present in the Buddhist mythology as well and like in Indian mythology they have an eternal conflict with the Nagas! Thailand has gone one up on India on this one and have made Garuda their national symbol! 

Garuda might be an awesome creature, but the most loved and revered mythological god in Hindu scene is Lord Ganesh - the elephant god! Elephant is the national animal of Thailand. Keeping aside the commercial exploitation of elephants, Thai people love elephants. In fact a lot of temples have Ganesha at their entrance (just as they are depicted in India). However, as some of the atheists in India claim, Ganesha was not part of the mythological scene in many of our ancient scriptures and they renounced Ganesha as an Indian god. This claim makes me think that may be Ganesha was an import from Thailand to India :)

The Connection
So these are some of the dots that I found in the first one month in Thailand. How do they connect? I did some more digging and found that Indian religion and culture has had far reaching influence than what we think today it has. A line from wikipedia about Thailand's history reads thus:
 "Similar to other regions in Southeast Asia, it was heavily influenced by the culture and religions of India, starting with the kingdom of Funan around the 1st century CE.

There is more to it. The direct references of Ramayana (not just in Thailand but also in Indonesia and Cambodia) is a great trail to follow and I found that the ancient kingdom of Cholas from Tamilnadu spread across the modern day SE Asia.Though the heart of the Cholas were the immensely fertile basin of river Kaveri, they had reached as far as Cambodia while they were in their peak of influence. Wikipedia claims "The Chola dynasty was at the peak of its influence and power during the medieval period...  Rajaraja Chola I and Rajendra Chola I extended the Chola kingdom beyond the traditional limits of a Tamil kingdom. At its peak, the Chola Empire stretched from the island of Sri Lanka in the south to the Godavari-Krishna basin in the north, up to the Konkan coast in Bhatkal, the entire Malabar Coast in addition to Lakshadweep, Maldives and vast areas of Chera country.  In addition Rajendra's territories included the area falling on the Ganges-Hooghly-Damodar basin, large parts of Burma, Thailand, Indo-China Laos, Kambodia, the Malay peninsula and Indonesia."

Hence my dear friends, the relationship between us and the SE Asia nations extends beyond the noodles, rice and cooking! Apart from the dots mentioned here there are many similarities in the day-today practices as well. For example, Like in India, Thai people also consider their feet to be dirtier than other parts and hence it is disrespectful to point your feet at someone or even point it at a thing. If only we can understand the golden words of Kaniyan Poongunranar better - "Yaadhum oorae yaavarum kelir" (To us all towns are one, all men our kin), we wont be calling them Chinkis and they wont be calling as Farangs. 

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  1. Very revealing Post about US :-) Thanks Dude!!!

    Btw, are you safe there? Heard about the floods in Bangkok...

  2. Well, as of now yes. But already my place is surrounded by water and am stranded with nowhere to go and water level is rising. Fingers crossed :) I am sure, I will make a post if any exciting adventure comes my way :)

  3. Good one Sithapps... Reading this just made me recollect something which I read about lord Indra(in WikiPedia of course!)... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indra

    Lots of correlations and commonalities indeed!

  4. @ Vijay - yeah da. In fact they also worship Shiva. Here he is referred to as Phra siwa! :)


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