In the Western world, if you look for books and articles on polytheism, you will often find Roman, Greek, Norse and Egyptian mythologies. All of those are dead religions which are no longer in practice. But there is a whole world of living “religions” out there that are polytheistic.
I present to you the wall of polytheism in Asia. East of this wall, most countries practice some kind of polytheism. The practice is widely diverse across Asia, spanning from Hindu gods in the Indian subcontinent to Shinto gods in Japan. West of the Indian subcontinent is the Middle East: the cradle of Islam, the second biggest religion in the world and also monotheistic.
Now, defining polytheism can be challenging. Here is my definition: any practice that worships multiple figures in some form or other is polytheistic. Every region and country in the map below has it own unique culture. One common feature of polytheism is lack of uniformity due to its highly decentralized nature.
This post was inspired by the amazing book: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings
Polytheism by country
Shintoism+Buddhism: Shintoism is Japan’s native religion which blended with Buddhism
Buddhism and Confucianism
Buddhism and shamanism
China and Taiwan
A combination of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.
A blend of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and ancestor worship.
South East Asia: Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma
These countries practice Theravada Buddhism where Buddha is worshiped in many forms. Sometimes Hindu deities are also worshiped.
Hinduism, Buddhism and numerous tribal religions
The only country in the world with Hinduism as its state religion
Theravada Buddhism + Hinduism
Countries with sizable minorities
Some countries have a rich polytheistic past and minorities that practice polytheism
Has a minority of Hindus and Buddhists
Minorities like the Chinese and Indian populations still practice polytheism
The island of Bali still has a practicing Hindu population. The rest of Indonesia also has a rich Hindu-Buddhist past with countless polytheistic temples spread across the landscape. The national airlines of Indonesia is Garuda Air