Southeast Asia has had civilization since around 45,000 years ago and hence has a deep historical significance that influences their culture to this day. One of the main parts of their culture that has carried through to the present has been religion. And through the years many religions have come making this area from Myanmar through Indonesia one of the most religiously diverse areas in the world.
The first major religion to come to the region around the first century. This religion was spread from the Indian subcontinent and lasted for almost 1500 years as the main religion of all of Southeast Asia. The only reason this religion fell out of favor was because of the abuse of power that the caste system of Hinduism allowed. While not popular today in southeast Asia there are still some temples and other monuments left over.
This is the religion that is most practiced by the people of Southeast Asia. It started around the 5th century BC and spreading to Southeast Asia by around 500 AD. From there it grew especially with the more common classes rather than the elites. Hence causing it to eventually overthrow Hinduism. Buddhism is still immensely popular today among most countries of Southeast Asia including Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and others.
Around the same time Buddhism was spreading, Arabian traders began sailing and exploring this new world. Originally wanting to just trade with the natural resource-abundant land they eventually, by the 12 century, started spreading their religion as well. Many leaders converted to Islam through pre-coordinated marriages and some people followed suit. The countries with high Islam populations include Indonesia and Malaysia.
Many would think that this religion isn’t popular in Southeast Asia especially with the bad historical past with the Spanish, French, and United States colonies and military involvement. The Spanish colonization in the 1500s included what is the modern-day Philippines. The Spanish heavily promoted their form of Christianity, Catholicism. And despite bad treatment from the Spanish most of the Philippines people still, practice Catholicism. And there are also minor spots of Christianity throughout all of Southeast Asia.
If you travel to Southeast Asia you will be surrounded with deep-rooted cultural traditions that many Southeast Asians take very seriously. And one of the main cultural traditions that Southeast Asians possess is religion. While many Southeast Asians practice some form of Buddhism today, there are also centers of Islam, Hinduism, and even Christianity. Even if you aren’t very religious you can travel to this area and experience the religiously diverse lands of Southeast Asia and be amazed at the temples and rituals.