The Thai monks turned social media stars

Phra Maha Paiwan Warawanno and Phra Maha Sompong Talaputto are two Buddhist monks who have became the latest social media stars in Thailand.

They have started livestreams every Friday night on Facebook that combine traditional teachings, known as Dhamma, with modern life advice and a hefty dose of humor.

But some of the country's religious conservatives, are not so amused, especially because Buddhism is one of the three traditional pillars of Thai society, alongside the nation and monarchy.

This is Paiwan:

"The Buddhist teachings aren't outdated but the method of teaching is so outdated. You can't spread the teachings in the old way anymore because it is too constricted with the lecturing and such. It will only reach a certain group of people, the elderly people. So my question is: is Dhamma supposed to only stay with the old generation? They will eventually die. Without reaching out to the young, what will be the place of religion in the future? Religion will be abandoned and I don't want that to happen."

With an impressive fluency in youth slang, the two have captured the imagination of a generation who find the formal temple decorum outdated and inaccessible.

The upbeat sessions also provided much needed relief for many Thais confined at home during night-time curfews to stifle the global health crisis.

Their weekly livestreams attract hundreds of thousands of viewers within minutes, once reaching a peak of two million.

Paiwan's Facebook following skyrocketed by more than 800% in just over a month.

Despite their popularity among the young, Paiwan and Sompong have drawn criticism from Buddhist conservatives who deemed their livestreams inappropriate.

Last month, the two monks were summoned by a parliamentary committee on religion to explain their online activities.

Srisuwan Janya is the head of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution.

"Monks' behavior has to be respectable in the public eye. It doesn't have to change with the times to appease young people. There are still people who prefer the original cultural traditions who can't take this (new way) and that will lead to the decline of Buddhism, which has already existed for nearly 2,600 years without the need need to change."

For fans like Onravee Tangmeesang, the monks livestreams adds a little bit of positivity to her Fridays.

"We're having a stressful life already and that giggle (of the monks) can really brighten up my day."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting