INDIA AND INDIANS IN THAILAND (3 papers)
Organizer: Amarjiva Lochan, University of Delhi
India and Thailand have been in constant relationship since time immemorial. Waves of intercourse swished by the soils of the region which has a strategic geographical location in the trans-Indian Oceanic trade and commerce. Starting from the arrival of the Indian carnelian beads in various regions of the present-day Thailand in the second millennia BC, India has been known to the people around as Jambudvipa. Lots have been written, studied, and researched on the elements of Buddhism and Brahmanism arriving here from India. However, there is a very minimal attention paid to the socio-cultural actions of the various groups of the Indic origin. The panel would feature papers on various Indian communities down the ages in Thailand, their adjustment and acceptance, problems and prejudices, and other aspects of life in Thailand.
Indian social-cultural Organizations in Thailand
Chirapat Prapandvidya, Silpakorn University
Thailand has witnessed close relations with Indian communities in recent times. With a historical linkage between the two countries, it was but natural that people of Indian origin would land up in Thailand to continue the old tradition of trade relations which both India and Thailand had in the ancient past. Resultantly, with the modern time relation for such Indians being in Thailand for over 100 years, several socio-cultural organizations have developed in Thailand in the recent past. They serve two purposes: 1. to bring their respective Indian communities together and 2. to create a harmonious relation with the local Thai communities. Therefore, most of the activities of the Indian socio-cultural organizations in Thailand have benefitted served Thai institutions and individuals. To name a few, Thai-Bharat Cultural Lodge and Geeta Ashram have played a pivotal role in giving assistance to the academic community and young students. Apart from celebrating their Indian festivals and national days, these organizations have shown their deep faith in Thailand, its Buddhism and the institution of Kingship. Such organisations, expose the elements of the Indian culture here. Many of the Indian festivals, music and dance forms were known due to the regular activities of these organizations in Thailand. The organizations such as Hindu Samaj and Mariamman Temple have played a definite role in promoting the cordial relations between the two countries. The paper proposed explores to look into the aspects of the diasporic contribution of the Indian organizations to Thai society in general and Thai intelligentsia in particular.
Indian communities and their contribution to the Thai Education
Sophana Srichampa, Director, Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development, Mahidol University
The Indian communities in Thailand have formed as the groups such as Thai-Bharat Cultural Lodge functions in cultural events. Sri Guru Singh Sabha and Hindu Samaj offer a platform for the preservation of their religious faith. However, often, they have become a centre for contributing for a better Thai society. Several philanthropic activities have been carried out by the members of the Indian communities. In the era before 1970's, when Thai economy was in not a strong shape, India was the big source of academic support. Such interaction between the two communities grew up. Here, we cannot forget the collection of money by the Indian communities under the leadership of Mr. Subhash Chandra Bose in 1940's which helped the establishment of the Chulalongkorn medical school. Such contribution to the education by the Indian communities is evident in running of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial School, Sukhothai, Nehru Memorial School in Chiangmai , Sathyasai School at Lopburi Province and Hindu Samaj School in Bangkok . Indians have supported these schools by providing scholarships, equipments, uniforms, furniture for the classrooms, stationery and other essential articles. The reference library of Thai-Bharat Cultural Lodge has provided a free gateway to know India. The Lodge assists Thai students to acquaint with the mode and standard of education prevailing in India, provides free classes of Sanskrit and Hindi, publishes books, supplies the Sanskrit textbooks to the Buddhist Universities, awards a gold medal to the Sanskrit students of Chulalongkorn University, and arranges lectures by eminent Indian scholars. The paper looks into such selfless Indian contribution to Thai education. This is done quietly but the result is valuable and permanent for Thai young generation.
How Indian is Thai?
Amarjiva Lochan, University of Delhi
The historical link between India and Thailand antedates the arrival of Hindu-Buddhist elements in Thai society. The earliest contact date can be from the first millennium BC as evidenced by the archaeological finds in Kanchanaburi. The regular intercourse went along with the trade and the arrival of Buddhist delegation of the Mauryans(third century BC). Keeping aside the Suvarnabhumi issue, we have a series of the arrival of Indian culture traits at regular interval: be it the coastal Thailand with over 10,000 brhamana priests cum traders(3rd century AD); Dvaravati and its close connection with the Indian art schools(7th century AD); the Indian features through the Khmer channel(ninth century AD); the visit of the leading Buddhist patriarch to India( 13 th century AD); the Indian traders and priests in the Autthayan courts( 16th century AD). The list goes on. Buddhism and India were always identified together. In ceremonies, rituals and festivals, the Hindu beliefs have been very transparent. But, the question of great academic interest is: whether such close proximity makes Thai Indian? Is this acculturation one-sided? Are the Indian culture vestiges well preserved in Thailand? Is the popularity of some saintly people in Thailand the continuation of such Indic tradition? How much Chatukham is Indian? These require anthropological evaluation. A visit to Thai temples makes one feel Thailand not only like an India but sometimes more than India. The worship of Brahma is one vivid example as this Lord does not remain in great religious demand in India. The paper would look into the aspects of such Indic elements which are sometimes more than Indian and non-Indian than commonly believed.