If there is one thing that Thai traditions have aplenty, it is their folklore. Folktales in Thailand are often narrated by the elders to impart wisdom to the younger generation. The stories nearly always end with moral lessons which teach the importance of upholding valued traditions. While most stories revolved around the texts of Buddhism, some tales are based on the spirit world, which instructs children to be respectful of death rituals and customs. Sometimes, even the festivals, arts and crafts form the basis of a Thai folktale.
Thai folklore knits together a diverse set of stories, told by a diverse group of people. Villagers spun tales around their personal religious beliefs, while village shamans, known as Phram, performed exorcisms and conducted several ceremonies, including weddings. The Thais also worshipped many deities who soon became the foundation upon which Thai folklore now stands. Hundreds of Thais who lived away from the villages used amulets for bringing luck, which in turn appears in several tales in Thai folklore.
Belief in spirits and ghosts is also reflected strongly in Thai folktales, which is awash with stories, myths, and legends of ghosts. These have endured and evolved, illustrating the unshakeable conviction in the minds of the Thai people that ghosts could be found in certain trees, burial grounds near Buddhist temples and even in a few abandoned houses. The Thais even went so far as to categorise their ghosts: mountain-dwelling ghosts were called Phi Khao whereas forest spirits were called Phi Pa.
Thai folklore also embraces the existence of animals in our world by featuring the mynah bird time and again, portraying its ability to talk and imitate sounds. Common tales which include animals are “Hen and her six chicks” (which explain the origin of the Pleiades), “The White Crows”, “The Elephant, the Monkey, and the Quail”, and “The Elephant and the Bees”. While these were written in Thailand, they were based on the Panchatantra, an ancient Indian inter-related collection of animal fables in verse and prose.
With the passing of time, many of these stories have been embroidered, but the essence of the origins still remains. Much of Thai folklore has even become a very popular part of Thai culture.
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