Thailand Comes to a Halt on October 26 to Bid Farewell to King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Sanam Luang
Sanam Luan with the Pyre in front of the Royal Palace where the Royal Cremation will take place (Photo: Bangkok Post).

After a year of mourning Thailand beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thai citizens bid their final farewell to the monarch who reigned over the Kingdom during 70 years. Grandiose ceremonies include a massive procession which will end up this evening with the cremation.

The body of the late Monarch is being taken out of the Grand Palace, where it was resting, to Sanam Luang (the Royal Field) for the Royal Cremation. The royal urn of the late King is being transported to the waiting Royal Chariot of Great Victory, then carried in a  procession to Sanam Luang. The Royal Chariot of Great Victory and other chariots are pulled by about 500 soldiers, and bound for the ceremonial ground.

The body will then be placed on a funeral pure which has been erected for the occasion. The pyre was built to resemble the sacred centre of the Hindu universe, Mount Meru. Artists, sculptors have been working for months to create the sophisticated and delicate structure.

The ceremony will reach its climax in the evening will take place. The first cremation will be held at 5.30pm, attended by royal family members and dignitaries, including official foreign  guests from 42 countries. The second cremation will then be held on Thursday night, when King Rama X or King Maha Vajiralongkorn- the unique son of the late King- lights up the pyre.

Massive crowds of Thai arrived from all across the Kingdom and have descended on the streets of Bangkok, many sleeping around the Grand Palace. Local newspapers talk about some 100,000 mourners being present at the Royal Cremation site.

For travellers present now in Thailand, many embassies advised not to go to the Royal Cremation as the area will be extremely congested. Most shops are being closed this afternoon around the country but activity will resume tomorrow. However, many entertainment venues will remain closed until Saturday. The end of the mourning has officially been set on October 29.

King Bhumibol has been the world’s longest-reigning monarch. He accessed the throne in 1946 and remained King until he passed away at the age of 88 on October 13, 2016.