Commodification of Hinduism in Contemporary Thailand Evidence from a Hindu Shrine in Bangkok

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Ruchi Agarwal

Abstract

In this paper, I present the argument that Buddhism in Thailand has not been successful in satisfying the religious desires of the Buddhist population. This has attracted the Buddhist devotees to other religions, giving rise to the commodification of religious beliefs in contemporary Thailand. This paper aims to bring the commodification of Hindu religious beliefs to light by examining the growing popularity of a ‘Hindu’ shrine in a commercial district of Bangkok, Siva’s Shrine in the Pinklao District. Run by a charity organization, the shrine reveals both syncretism and commodification of religious Hindu beliefs. A descriptive approach utilizing interviews and observations has been adopted. The findings show how the local Thai population has modified Hindu belief systems, especially in the capital city of Bangkok. The paper is divided into mainly two parts: the first section explores the concept of commodification and the later section details findings from the chosen shrine.

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