BamBam In A 'Kurta'?: Shedding Light On India And Thailand's Cultural Similarities

BamBam’s “Kurta” Fiasco

In one of his recent live streams, K-Pop’s skrrt skrrt boy, GOT7’s BamBam showed up radiantly in a glamorous, studded black shirt, also known to Indians as the traditional “kurta”- an essential found in every Indian’s wardrobe.

The said “Kurta” also happens to be one of Thailand’s traditional attires.

“I wanted to wear this to Thailand’s Stadium Show” said BamBam. The artist further explains that due to unfortunate circumstances, he was unable to do so. 

“I really like it; it’s light and cool, you know”, And south Asians agree! The “Kurta” is worn in multiple nations across south-east Asia and is an essential statement piece belonging to multiple cultures. 

This similarity got us thinking about how overlooked the commonalities and shared traditions are between India and its neighbouring nations. The revolution of K-Pop is diversifying and is no longer limited to the Korean population. As the Hallyu wave sweeps the globe, an increasing number of idols belonging to various global cultures now provide for representation. There has been an especial surge in large industrial names from our close neighbours- Thailand. From BLACKPINK’s Lisa, GOT7’s BamBam, CLC’s Sorn, NCT’s TEN, etc Thai idols make up for a considerable talent pool within the industry.

Thailand and India may not share direct borders but have surprisingly similar roots. You’d be surprised to know that you’ve unknowingly shared lots of cultural aspects and a childhood with some of your favourite K-Pop idols.

In the era of the global village, K-HIGH brings you an exclusive list of the melting pot of heritage that is Asia, by shedding light on the coupling cultures of Thailand and India.

 

The Roots

So how did these two nations, separated by a sea, came to share the same culture? 

Centuries ago, Buddhist philosophers, Hindu priests and Dravidians mass migrated to Thailand and found a home there. In fact, 80% of the Thai people carry Dravidian genes within them. The Kingdom of Ayutthaya, the Thai counterpart of Ayodhya was established and subsequent Indian mythological references flourished. You will also notice striking visual similarities in the South Indian and  Thai language scripts- as they hail from the Dravidian structure.

BamBam
Ayutthaya in Thailand

 

BamBam
Ayodhya in India

 

Greetings

GOT7’s BamBam
Lisa
BLACKPINKs Lisa

When walking the streets of Thailand, do not be surprised if you are greeted with the gesture of a ‘Namaste’ but with the changed wording of ‘Sawasdee’ (meaning well-being, derived from Sanskrit), we share the customary greetings!

 

Names

‘Pranpriya Manoban’, Dear fellow Indians, doesn’t this name hit closer to home? Well, it’s the birth name of BLACKPINK’s beloved rapper, Lisa. Heavily influenced by the traditional scripts of the Hindu Sanskrit and the Buddhist Pali language originating in India, most of the Thai names are eventual derivations of these scripts, making the names sound softer to the south Asian ear.

                                             Chonnasorn Sajakul– CLC’s Sorn
                    Chittaphon Leechaiyapornkul– NCT’s TEN

 

         Kunpimook Bhuwakul– GOT7s BamBam

 

Dressing

BamBam’s Kurta is just one of the many shared attires between Thai and Indian cultures. Bearing similar-sounding yet different names, Thai traditional wear has multiple elements found in Indian ethnic wear as well. The Sabai, is the Thai equivalent of an Indian saree, the Jong-Graben, what Indians would call the Dhoti, is adorned by Thai men in ceremonies bearing religious significance and the ever so famous Sarong, looks like nothing but the Indian lungi’s colourful cousin.

The Thai Sabai
A Thai man adorned in a Jong-Graben

Festivals and Rituals

Although christened much differently, Diwali (Thai: Loy Krathong), Navratri, Makar Sankranti (Thai: Songkran), Pongal, Shivratri, Holi- all of these festivals are celebrated with equal pomp in the island nation of Thailand. 

             Loy Krathong

 

                                                           Songkran

Not just the festivals, but even the rituals involved in conducting auspicious ceremonies such as marriage, fasting, consulting priests for auspicious dates for events, etc remain unchanged.

Food

                               

From spicy, colourful curries, thin flaky bread to sop them up with, fragrant rice and a range of spices and aromatics found in your desi kitchen, the people of Thailand and India sure cannot brag their pining for flavour and a spice tolerance enough!

Gods

A Thai Temple- similar to the ones seen in Southern India
A traditional Thai painting depicting the Ramakien- or the Ramayana.

A large part of Thailand’s culture, tradition, architecture, Gods, etc is largely based on Thailand’s national epic- the Ramakien- yes you guessed it right, the Ramayan. The worship of the Trimurti- or the belief in the holy trinity of the three Gods- Bramha, Vishnu and Shiva- is also a part of Thai culture. Temples dedicated to Hindu Gods like Lord Ganesha, Rama, the River Ganga, the Trimurti, Indra, etc are laden all over the nation, adorning a look that makes one feel right at home.

Here’s a list of some popular Indian Gods and their Thai names

Phra Narai/Witsanu – Vishnu

Phra Isuan – Shiva

Phra Phrom – Brahma

Phra Uma-thewi – Parvathi

Phra Laksami – Lakshmi

Phra In – Indra

Mali Warat – Visravas (God of Demons)

Phra A-thit – Surya

Phra Phai – Vayu

Phra Witsawakam/Witsanukam – Viśhwákarma

Pra Ram – Lord Rama

Phra Lak – Lakshmana

Phra Sida – SitaHanuman

Phra Phikanet / Phra Phikanesuan – Ganesha 

And the list goes on and on! We’re so stoked to be able to show how Asian cultures are all connected at the root, sharing the same values, love and respect. Can you think of any similarities between India and her neighbours? Let us know in the comments!