In a historic move, the Thailand government has officially designated, ‘Wai, a traditional Thai greeting as the country’s national identity. This decision was made public by the Prime Minister of Thailand, Somchai Wongsawat. Prime Minister Somchai, in the cabinet meeting also said that he would seek a cabinet endorsement to this resolution so that ‘Wai’, the common greeting used by natives becomes the official national identity of Thailand. This recognition underscores the cultural significance and deep-rooted traditions of Thailand.
The ‘Wai’ is Thailand’s way of greeting, respect, and reverence. It involves bringing both palms together in a prayer-like position and bowing or dipping one’s head. The gesture is often accompanied by a slight bow or a nod, depending on the social context. This traditional way of greeting, ‘Wai’ is not only a symbol of politeness but also reflects the Thailand people’s strong cultural beliefs and values.
The announcement has been met with widespread support from various sectors of Thailand, including cultural and religious leaders, academics, and the general public. Many see it as a positive step towards preserving and promoting Thailand’s unique cultural identity in the face of modernization and globalization. The Prime Minister of Thailand on Thursday said that several ancient kingdoms in Southeast Asia accepted this form of greeting from India mostly through the widespread of Hinduism and Buddhism, but Thailand managed to cultivate and refine it and make it unique from similar gestures in other countries.
Educational programs will be developed to teach the significance of the ‘Wai’ and its correct and proper execution. Additionally, the government encourages the inclusion of the ‘Wai’ in official ceremonies and international events to showcase the cultural heritage of Thailand on the world stage.
This historic move also highlights Thailand’s commitment to preserving and celebrating its cultural diversity. The ‘Wai’ is practised by people of all ages and backgrounds across the country, making it a unifying symbol that transcends social and regional differences.
By embracing ‘Wai’ as the national identity, Thailand showed how this cultural tradition will be integrated into the fabric of daily life and diplomacy.