Several thousand Hindus of Indian origin live in Thailand, mainly in the larger cities. Besides this group of “traditional Hindus”, Thailand in its earliest days was under the rule of the Khmer Empire, which had strong Hindu roots, and the influence among Thais remains even today. The popular Ramakien epic is based on the Hindu Ramayana. The former capital of Ayutthaya was named for Ayodhya, the Indian birthplace of the Hindu god Rama.
There is a class of Thai brahmins who perform rituals for Hindu gods. Brahmin rituals are still common, including the use of holy strings for blessing and pouring of lustral water from conch shells. Hindu deities are worshipped by many Thais despite their official Buddhism, and statues and shrines of Brahma, Ganesh, Indra, and Shiva and other Hindu gods are a common sight (for example the Erawan Shrine area). Another relic of Hinduism is Garuda, now a symbol of the monarchy.
According to the Thai Census of 2005, 52,631 people identify as Hindus, making up just 0.09% of the total population.