Two Buddhist monks in Thailand have become social media stars with their livestream on Facebook combining traditional teachings with non-traditional jokes and laughter. However, some of the country’s religious conservatives do not find their venture so amusing.
With impressive ease in youthful slang, the Phra Maha Paiwan Warawanno, 30 years old and Phra Maha Sompong Talaputto, 42 years old, have captured the imagination of a generation that believes that the formal decoration of the temple and the Sanskrit chanting of traditional Buddhism is outdated and inaccessible.
A recent Friday night, the Paiwan put his phone on a tripod and put a microphone on his saffron robe, sitting next to Phra Maha Sompong in a small study in the temple Wat Soi Thong in Bangkok.
In the livestream that followed, the two men talked about a variety of topics, blending the Buddhist teachings, known as Dhamma, with modern tips for life and a strong dose of humor.
“I want the Dhamma and the new generation to coexist “, said the Paiwan in the Reuters. “Without approaching young people, what will be the position of religion in the future?” completed.
His weekly live broadcasts Paiwan and his Sompong attract hundreds of thousands of viewers in a matter of minutes, reaching up to two million at some point.
THE Paiwan, whose number of followers in Facebook jumped more than 800% to 2.5 million in just over a month, said he wanted to keep Buddhism relevant to its society Thailand after scandals in temples for murder, drugs, sex and money laundering.
Optimistic sessions also provided much-needed relief for many Thai who were locked in their home during the night curfew to deal with quarantine due to COVID-19 in the country.
“We have bad days and we are stressed about work, money, family, the pandemic and everything that happens with the lock,” said the 32-year-old. Onravee Tangmeesang, who watches the monks livestream every Friday night from her bed.
“These laughs can really brighten my day.”
But the weekly live streams were not so well received by Buddhist conservatives who wanted to abide by the conventions and formulations of religion.
The two monks were summoned last month to a parliamentary committee on religion to explain their online activities, while senior government officials warned them to curb jokes and “inappropriate behavior”.