The one-month mourning, which was imposed by the government following the passing of Thailand revered King Bhumibol officially finished on November 14. Mourning will now only be followed officially by public servants until October of next year. The government explained that all activities should resume, although festivities would be organised in a low key, low profile way.
Loy Krathong took place on November 14 with just candle floating and some traditional activities linked to this religious festival. However, tourists coming to Bangkok to enjoy the traditional lighting and all christmas trees across the city -particularly the iconic giant tree in front of Central World- have been cancelled. One of Bangkok top retailer, Siam Piwat, which owns Siam Discovery, Siam Center and Siam Paragon, confirms that there will be no Christmas celebration in this year.
Visitors then might be disappointed especially as the message from both the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Sports and Tourism is about ” to be back in business”. “We are hosting again events. A full moon party has been hosted in Koh Phangan and we will soon have a big football tournament while the elephants festival is taking place in Surin. Not to mention about the recent Loy Krathong. We are in deep sorrow over the passing of our beloved King but we understand that life must go on”, explains H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Sports and Tourism.
Asked about the cancellations of Christmas events, she seems surprised: “Frankly, I did not hear anything about cancellations of Christmas/New Year linked events. There will definitely be a countdown at Central although it might be different than previous years as we still mourn our beloved King. We still need to have consultations”, she adds.
Bangkok looks indeed very dark this Christmas without the traditional lighting that stretches all across Ratchaprasong and around the Asok/Phrom Phong area -where other major malls are located. The sad atmosphere during this time of the year might in fact This could for international visitors as Bangkok’s celebrations of the Christmas Holiday and New Year Countdown have been one of the metropolis highlights of the tourist season.
It is in fact a delicate balance. What can now be deemed as ‘decent’ celebrations in Thailand? Of course, Christmas celebrations have not been really a priority in a country which remains essentially Buddhist and which perceives Christmas more like a commercial opportunity than as a spiritual time. The true spirit of Christmas could have been in fact implemented this year. Around a giant christmas tree in Central Bangkok, farmers, small communities could have been invited to expose and sell their handicraft of goods to help them to improve their income. This would have been in a truly Christmas spirit and it would also have followed the teaching of late King Bhumibol, who spent his life improving the well-being of his subjects across the Kingdom…