King Bhumibol Adulyadej began his reign in 1946 at the age of 18. He reigned over the kingdom for 70 years, until his death on October 13, 2016. The longevity of his reign positioned him as a symbol of stability to his people, who for the most part, because of its long length, knew him as the only king in their lifetime. His cremation ceremony took place on October 27th. Let’s look back on a unique moment in Thailand’s history.
A Magnificent Event
The date of October 27th was not chosen at random. In fact, it was the astrologer of the new king of Thailand, Maha Vajiralongkorn, whose regnal name is Rama X, who fixed it following a Hindu ritual and Buddhist tradition. Similarly, the height of the golden crematorium, 50 meters 49 centimeters, was chosen after deliberation according to the stars and the alignment of the planets.
This monument symbolically represents Mount Meru, the center of the Buddhist and Hindu universe. The tradition is that after cremation in this building, the King will then be able to enter the kingdom of the gods because he is considered as the incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. The monument has been adorned with an animal at the four corners of the site, each indicating a cardinal direction. There’s a horse to the west, an elephant to the north, a lion to the east and a cow to the south. Likewise, the surrounding crematorium has been decorated with more than 500 animal statues, all hand painted, to represent the universe. In addition, all the workers and craftsmen who worked on this site had to purify themselves in sacred water.
A Unifying Procession
More than 200,000 people gathered in the streets of Bangkok to see the funeral procession and pay a final tribute to the King. All the participants were dressed in black and many of them cried during the procession that went from the Royal Palace to the Crematorium, about three kilometers.
In contrast to the crowd in black, the royal cortege was made up of more than 1,000 military men in traditional outfits to accompany the King’s remains on his last trip. The monument on which the King was transported a spectacular urn of gilded wood.
Following this procession, the new king: Rama X, son of Rama IX in red military costume presided over the rituals. As tradition dictates, his subjects crawled before him before he entered the procession. He was also accompanied by his sister Princess Sirindhorn, but also the king’s son, Dipangkorn Rasmijoti. At 10 pm, the new king symbolically lit the funeral pyre.
The coronation date of the new king has not yet been fixed by his astrologer. He takes over from his father who had god status, and who was very much appreciated by the Thai people.
You can see this spectacular ceremony in its entirety by clicking here.