Every culture has its own religion and belief. Being an Asian country, Lao religions share some similarity with other countries in the Asia. However, Laos has some typical ones of its own, which rooted in immense spirituality, as the predominant religion of Theravada Buddhism has influences extending from lifestyle to art and architecture.
Buddhism is one of the most influential religions among the Lao religions. It was introduced in the beginning in the 8th century by Mon Buddhist monks and widespread in the 14th century. Lao Buddhists belong to the Theravada (Hinayana or ‘small vehicles’) tradition which is based on the earliest teachings of the Buddha and preserved in Sri Lanka after Mahayana Buddhism branched off in the second century B.C. The Theravada Buddhism is also the dominant school in Thailand and Cambodia.
In Laos, people prefer collectivism to individualism. They tend to share equal responsibility and contribute to the community such as building the local school or someone’s house together. Also, Lao people often practice of alms in every morning at sunrise.
You can easily catch sight of animist shrines or temples because most villages have their own at least one. These temples are not only places for monks to live and pray, they are also the main centre for social and recreational activities such as village meetings, religious ceremonies and festivals.
Laos has about 49 ethnic minorities, each of them preserves their own identity dialect, customs, culture, and tradition. Ethnic Lao (previously called Lao Loum) is obviously the most dominant group in Laos, which encounters a half of the population. Consequently, most people encounter the Laos culture when they come this country.
Besides, there is a very minor group of Christians in the country, mainly in urban areas. Most hill tribes practice spirit worship or animism, but some have also adopted certain tenets of Buddhism and Confucianism. Buddhism philosophy of “each individual is responsible for his own actions” leads people go their own way and not interfere the others.
Religion played a major role in the culture of Laos-art, architecture, and literature were. The evidence of the influence of religion in Lao’s culture can be seen in the country’s historical monuments.