Thais prepare for final farewell
Citizens mark one year since king’s death with prayers
BANGKoK: Thais marked one year since the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej with solemn ceremonies and acts of personal devotion before an elaborate fiveday funeral later this month.
Official commemorations of Bhumibol were organised at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital, where he died, and at Government House and the ornate royal palace.
But many ordinary people showed their respects on the streets, at neighbourhood markets and temples, kneeling before orangerobed monks to perform a Buddhist meritmaking ritual.
“You see his achievements on TV sometimes, but now that he has passed we are learning about so many other things he has done for the country,” said Panicha Nuapho, 66, who travelled from a province 330km north of Bangkok to pay respects at Siriraj Hospital.
“This is my final sendoff,” she said, weeping.
Outside the hospital, mourners clad in black offered alms to a long procession of Buddhist monks and several thousand packed its grounds, joining nurses and doctors in prayers as monks chanted over loudspeakers.
Bhumibol’s death at age 88 after a reign of seven decades sparked a national outpouring of grief and a year of mourning that will culminate with his cremation on Oct 26.
More than 12 million people have visited the palace throne hall where the king’s body has been kept.
The reverence Bhumibol inspired was in part the result of decades of work by palace officials to rebuild the prestige of the monarchy, which lost much of its influence after a 1932 coup ended centuries of absolute rule by Thai kings.
That effort built an aura of divinity around Bhumibol, who was protected from criticism by draconian lese majeste laws, but the king was also genuinely adored for his charitable work, personal modesty and as a symbol of stability.
Thailand’s government had asked the public to observe 89 seconds of silence yesterday at 3.52pm, marking the official time of Bhumibol’s death in what Thai culture emphasises was his 89th year. — AP
In loving memory: Elephants doused in powder to appear an auspicious white taking part in a special ceremony at the ancient royal capital Ayuttahya. (Below) Well-wishers offering alms to Buddhist monks in Bangkok to mark the first anniversary of Bhumibol’s death. — AP/Reuters