Siva, also known as Shiva, is a prominent deity in the Hindu pantheon and is worshiped throughout India and beyond. However, Siva is also revered in neighboring Thailand, where his image is often found in Thai temples alongside other Hindu gods.
In Thai culture, Siva is known as "Phra Siwa" or "Phra Isuan," and is associated with destruction and transformation. This may seem like a negative connotation, but in Thai sacred belief, destruction is seen as a necessary part of the cycle of creation, preservation, and dissolution.
Siva is often depicted in Thai art with four arms, each holding a different symbol. One arm holds a trident, which represents the three aspects of Siva's power: creation, preservation, and destruction. Another arm holds a drum, which symbolizes the sound of the universe. The third arm holds a flame, which represents the transformative power of destruction. The fourth arm is raised in a gesture of blessing.
One of the most important festivals in Thailand, the "Phi Ta Khon" festival, is held in honor of Siva. The festival takes place in the town of Dan Sai and involves colorful processions, music, and dancing. Participants wear elaborate masks and costumes, many of which depict Siva and other Hindu gods.
Siva's presence in Thai culture is a reminder that religious beliefs and practices can be fluid and dynamic, adapting and evolving over time and across different cultures. While Siva may have originated in ancient India, his influence and significance have spread far and wide, touching the hearts and minds of people from all walks of life.