Thailand is pre-dominantly Buddhist (over 90% of the population are Buddhists). I am far from being an expert on Buddhism, but living in Thailand it is impossible not to realize the impact it has on everyday life and the value placed on merit-making. There is a Thai saying which says that “if you do good you will receive good, if you do evil you will receive evil.” Put very simply, most Thais have a general belief in karma and reincarnation. So the good and bad actions in a Thai persons current life will have an effect on their next life. Making-merit helps ease the path of the current life as well as the future lives to come.
Offering alms to monks and praying are just two ways of making merit. Early morning in most towns and cities, monks in saffron robes can be seen collecting alms. As well as food and flowers, items such as washing powder and anything the temples may find useful in their day-to-day running are also donated by the public. Many Thai festivals, such as Songkran (Thai New Year), provide opportunities to make-merit and help clear the slate for any previous indiscretions.