Thai king’s cremation to be a lavish affair

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Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej will receive a lavish send-off this week during a spectacular five-day funeral centred around a cremation at a gilded pyre in Bangkok’s historic heart.

Steeped in centuries of royal tradition and overseen by strict palace protocols, the elaborate US$90mil (RM380mil) ceremony will draw an estimated quarter million Thais to bid farewell to the “father” of the nation, who died last year aged 88.

At the heart of the cremation complex is a 50m-high funeral pyre symbolising Mount Meru, the allegorical centre of the universe in Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cosmology.

The gold-painted structure is adorned with dozens of intricate sculptures of animals, deities and mythical creatures from Buddhist and Hindu lore.

Pride of place will go to sculptures of the late king’s beloved dogs.

Arranged symmetrically around the main tower are eight smaller structures representing the mountains surrounding Meru – and a possible nod to Bhumibol’s title as the ninth monarch of the Chakri dynasty, or Rama IX.

Bhumibol’s body is kept in a separate coffin to the symbolic Royal Urn, which will be carried up a ramp on a golden chariot to the pyre. Both the urn and coffin will be cremated, allowing his soul to pass into the afterlife according to Buddhist belief.

The funeral formally begins today with a Thai Buddhist religious ritual. It will be led by Bhumibol’s only son King Maha Vajiralongkorn, known as Rama X.

The following day the Royal Urn will be carried from the Grand Palace by bearers in striking traditional garb, flanked by drummers and soldiers.

On its way to the cremation site it will pass tens of thousands of black-clad mourners who are expected to bow and prostrate where possible.

As dusk falls, the king and other royals will lead the laying of sandalwood flowers at the urn.

Steeped in centuries of royal tradition and overseen by strict palace protocols, the elaborate US$90mil (RM380mil) ceremony will draw an estimated quarter million Thais to bid farewell to the “father” of the nation, who died last year aged 88.

 

Source:  News agencies