Thailand’s earliest settlers, the Mons, whose existence dates back to the sixth and eighth centuries, embraced Hindu culture and religious practices and built many temples to Lord Ganesha.
Ganesha is known here as Phra Pikanet and Phra Phikanesawora and presides over the arts, learning and commerce. He is invoked for good luck and success. While Buddhism is Thailand’s official religion, Hinduism co-exists with it comfortably; this is evidenced by the fact that the government’s Department of Fine Arts features Ganesha in its emblem. An image of Ganesha sits on a pedestal in front of CentralWorld in Bangkok (earlier known as World Trade Center), where worshippers stop by to make offerings.
Many media businesses have a Ganesha shrine at the entrance to their offices. The ritual of commencing daily business with a prayer to Ganesha is a widespread practice. When profits are good, Ganesha is worshipped, as in India, with modaks, fruits and sweets. His image is turned upside down when business hits a low.
The Royal Brahmin Temple, Bangkok, has some of Thailand’s oldest Ganesha images. At Phang-na, a 10th century bronze idol was discovered with inscriptions in Tamil and Thai.