Buddhism originated as an offshoot of Hinduism in India, but eventually it became popular all over Asia.
Religious, mythological and linguistic elements of Indian culture were absorbed by local populations across Asia where they adapted and moulded Indian influences to their own ways, gradually evolving cultures that were distinct yet with common roots.
The most influential literary work of all was the Ramayana which, along with the Mahabharata, ranks as India's greatest. The Ramakien is the Thai version of the Ramayana
Written some 2,000 years ago and accredited to the Indian poet Valmiki, the Ramayana opens with the founding of the rival cities of Ayutthaya, capital of the gods, and Langka, city of the demons.
The long and convoluted tale revolves around the struggle between these two antagonistic forces, the principal action focusing on the trials and tribulations of Ayutthaya Prince Rama, the abduction of his wife, Sita, and the eventual defeat of Langka by Hanuman and his army of monkey warriors.
In one form or another the epic was incorporated in the cultures of most Southeast Asian civilisations, and was firmly established before the ris e of the Thai kingdom .
Hanuman, the magical white monkey warrior is probably the best known monkey character in Ramakien.
This deity is a provider of courage, hope, knowledge, intellect and devotion. He is pictured as a robust monkey holding a mace (gada) which is a sign of bravery and having a picture of Lord Rama tattooed on his chest which is a sign of his devotion.
Those looking for courage and protection often wear amulets of Hanuman
Other interesting facts: The Thai Boxer's Kruang Ruang (decorative armband worn by many Thai Boxers around the biceps) so metimes has a cloth amulet with a portrait of Hanuman and a sacred Khom script inside.