Monks led sombre ceremonies across Thailand Friday to mark one year since the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, as the grieving nation prepares to bid a final farewell to the beloved monarch in a spectacular cremation ceremony this month.
Revered as a demi-god and loved as a “father” of all Thais, Bhumibol commanded deep devotion during his historic 70-year reign.
The past year has drawn out remarkable scenes of collective mourning across the kingdom, with many Thais expunging colour from their wardrobes and donning only black and white for most of the year.
The solemn mood has deepened this October as many Thais grapple with having to say goodbye during his cremation on the 26th, an elaborate five-day event that will send Bhumibol’s spirit to the afterlife.
On Friday black-clad Thais streamed into temples, state agencies and the courtyard of the Bangkok hospital where Bhumibol died to give alms to Buddhist monks in honour of the monarch.
As the massive funeral draws nearer, TV channels have been ordered to reduce their colour saturation, refrain from overly-joyous content and roll out documentaries highlighting the monarch’s good works.
Businesses have erected portraits and tributes to the king, while parks and pavements have been lined with marigolds — a flower associated with Bhumibol because of its yellow colour.
Bhumibol’s successor, his 65-year-old son King Maha Vajiralongkorn, is similarly shielded from criticism by the draconian legislation.
The new monarch has yet to attain his father’s level of popularity and has made moves to consolidate control over the palace bureaucracy and reduce government oversight during his first year on the throne.
Source: News agencies