Role of Dev Mandir in bridging Thai and Hindu community in contemporary Bangkok
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Hinduism in Southeast Asia, specifically in Thailand, and its influences on culture, society and politics is not a new area of study in the field of social sciences. A number of studies in the past have focused on Hinduism and its influences in Southeast Asia. These studies however have been focusing specifically on cultural and religious influences but only from a historical perspective. Far less attention has been paid to contemporary Hinduism, especially in Thailand, and how the younger generation of Thais has adopted aspects of Hinduism in their daily lives. This research paper is an attempt to fill this gap by focusing on modern aspects of Hinduism within the Thai context. In particular, this research paper examines how a contemporary Hindu temple, known as Dev Mandir, in Bangkok has come to serve as a center of religious faith for two separate communities: one Hindu and one Thai. Dev Mandir is an important diasporic Hindu temple located in the heart of Bangkok and acts as an important bridge between the Hindu and the Thai communities within the capital. The methodology utilized within this research involved the use of semi-structured interviews with practitioners and devotees as well as personal observations done closely during important religious ceremonies and events at the Dev Mandir. The results from the interviews and observations show evidence of acculturation and counter acculturation among the Hindu and self-defined Thai Buddhist visiting Dev Mandir on a regular basis.
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