Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Religion of LAWA

Religion : It is inaccurate, as popular beliefs would have it, that most of the Lawa are now Buddhists. While it is true that most of them might profess to be Buddhists, few of them, aside from their priesthood, place as much emphasis upon their Buddhistic learnings as they do upon a form of animism, which has been the original religion of these people. With the exception of the Buddhist was at Baw Luang, there are few wats that can be said to be strictly of Lawa patronage. By and large, even the Lawa people of Baw Luang, if they can get over pretenses, will admit to animistic practices and beliefs. These people might more accurately be considered as being Animistic-Buddhist and strictly animists. There are few hundred at most of Lawa Christians. Those Lawa who live further in the hills are strictly animists. The animism of the Lawa,(which has varying degrees of adherence according to location and adoption of Thai culture) is essentially belief in benevolent and malevolent spirits, which dwell in all things. It is necessary to make offering and sacrifices of pigs, chickens, rice, wine and if available, buffaloes, in order to propitiate the spirits. In addition, they have practices which are performed to honor the notable dead ancestors, whose spirits are thought to return to bless and look after the surviving relatives. They have no images or temples, but believe in shamans and exorcists who can remove bad spirits from various localities, or when they enter human bodies. Spirit cords around the wrists and neck are believed to protect the wearer against malevolent spirits.

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