THAIS HONOUR LATE KING
TWO YEARS AFTER HIS PASSING, NATION OFFERS MAJESTIC DISPLAY OF RESPECT
From dawn to dusk, Sanam Luang — the country’s ceremonial ground in front of the Grand Palace — was filled with a sea of yellow.
The colour came from shirts people wore to express their love and respect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
They came to participate in an all-day round of ceremonial events to mark the second year of King Bhumibol’s passing. Since early dawn, they came to offer alms to monks.
A wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the late King Bhumibol was also held at Sanam Luang yesterday morning.
From afternoon, a sea of people walked to Sanam Luang, waiting to participate in candle vigils scheduled for 6pm.
Heavy rain during the afternoon did not deter them from showing their love for the late king. They wanted to make sure they could participate.
People interviewed by the Bangkok Post admitted the ground has a special meaning in their hearts.
Last year, the royal cremation took place at the Sanam Luang ground and people came to evoke their fond memories about King Bhumibol.
“Needless to say, King Bhumibol has always been in my heart. Yet I felt the need to come here in person to pay him respect ... to feel the vibe,” said Prakong Srisurat 57, an office employee from Prawet district, who came to Sanam Luang in the early afternoon.
“It’s heartwarming to see that even after two years, a sea of people still gather here to honour him,” said 55-year-old tearyeyed Boonyanuch Boonpok, a civil servant from the Ministry of Industry, joined by her 27-year-old daughter Chayanid.
She had travelled from Bang Sue district to pay her respects.
“I just had to come because I want to be around other fellow like-minded Thais, “Ms Chayanid said.
Standing on Sanam Luang — right in front of the Grand Palace and, last year, where the Royal Cremation took place — made her feel close to him again, said Ms Chayanid, who last year came to pay her respects at King Bhumibol’s funeral held at the Royal Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall.
Lalita Khothuwan, 27, a civil servant from the Ministry of Education, said she came with her colleagues as a representative of her ministry.
“But even if my work didn’t mandate me to come, I would have come anyway. I just want to be a part of any event related to him,” she said.
The event at Sanam Luang is one of numerous events held across the country and overseas to honour the former monarch.
In Bangkok, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha led cabinet ministers, heads of government offices and officials to give alms to 890 Buddhist monks and novices at the Royal Plaza yesterday.
At Siriraj Hospital where King Bhumibol stayed for medical treatment before he passed away, people joined nurses, doctors and health personnel to give alms to 89 Buddhist monks at the country’s oldest hospital in Bangkok and observed an 89-minute silence in front of the portrait of the late King.
Eighty-nine has become the number people adopt to honour the former King, who passed away about seven weeks before his 89th birthday on Dec 5.
Various state agencies nationwide also held similar merit-making events.
Across the country, people rose early to go to temples and provincial halls to give alms to monks. Several shops offered free food for people to pay tribute to King Bhumibol.
People also expressed their love for the late King in social networking sites. The phrases “Forever in Our Hearts” and “Still on My Mind” — the names of songs composed by the late king — became popular hashtags across Facebook.
Many said King Bhumibol is still alive in their hearts while others regard him as a model for making contributions to the country.
One Facebook member, whose work involves publicising the late King’s life, said he admired the valuable work he undertook.
“That idea to work for the country is not mine. I just follow in the King’s footsteps,” he wrote.
Twitter is another social media platform where Thais expressed their love towards the late monarch.
“Two years ago this day, I felt directionless when King Rama IX passed away. It is like a house where our father died,” Judge Teemah, news anchor Bluesky cable TV wrote on his Twitter site.
Ceremonies across the border were also held to commemorate King Rama IX.
Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Prajin Juntong led his entourage to pay respect to the late King in a merit-making ceremony at Wat Sisaket, a temple in the Lao capital of Vientiane.
Meanwhile, an opinion poll found more than 70% of Thais said they want to create a peaceful society as part of activities held in memory of their beloved King Rama IX. The poll was based on respondents from 1,128 people nationwide from Oct 5-12.
The poll was conducted by Research Institute for Community Happiness and Leadership, a non-profit research foundation for social development.
Respondents reacted in the same way when they were asked what good deeds they want to do for their “father”, another word for the King, to mark his departure on Oct 13, 2016.
More than 73% said they will join hands to bring peace to society, which more than a decade ago was divided by severe political conflicts.
Nearly 70% of respondents said they will follow the Sufficiency Economy, the living and working philosophy introduced by King Rama IX.
Other respondents said they intend to protect the monarchy (68%), do volunteer work (56%) and make a sacrifice (52%).
FONDNESS OF HEART: His Majesty the King performs a merit-making ceremony to mark two years since King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away on Oct 13, 2016 at the Amarin Winitchai Throne Hall in the Grand Palace. The ceremony yesterday was also attended by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and other royal family members.
EVERLASTING LEGACY: Crowds of yellow-clad people take part in a mass candlelight vigil before a portrait of King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Sanam Luang, with the Grand Palace in the background, to mark two years since the late king passed away on Oct 13, 2016.