While the Royal Crematorium and Royal Chariot was being built by the master craftsmen from all over Thailand, the making of the sandalwood flowers which is used in Thai cremation ceremonies since time immemorial in Thailand was well underway throughout the many provinces in Thailand. It is believed in Thai culture that these fragrant handmade flowers when burnt during the cremation emits a distinct wonderful fragrance that helps to lead the soul of the deceased towards heaven.
The sandalwood paper are specially harvested from the sandalwood trees in Kui Buri National Park located in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Earlier in the year after the demise of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the succeeding king, HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, by royal decree, gave an opportunity for the public to participate in making these traditional sandalwood flowers which will be offered to King Bhumibol by him and members of the Royal Family during the Royal Cremation ceremony.
Members of the public who were interested to help make these sandalwood flowers could volunteer at several locations of these projects throughout the nation and take lessons offered by skilled teachers the royal courts, from the Royal Traditional Thai Crafts School for Women and Royal Craftsmen College. One of the venues allocated for the project is at the Dusit Palace compound in the vicinity of Sanam Sua Pa and the Royal Plaza which is open daily from 10.00am onward with traditional musical performances in the late evenings on weekends to entertain the volunteers and members of the public. The participation of the public helps them to voice and show their love for the late HM King Bhumibol whom they revere so much while building and fostering unity among the Thai people in this great moment of sadness and mourning. It also gives the people a sense of being part of the Royal Cremation ceremony and contributing in which way they are able too towards the ceremony.
The making of these sandalwood flowers for the Royal Cremation are in seven varieties, each with its own special meaning. The seven flower types are the daffodil, rose, cotton rose, white lily, orchid, Chabathip and Chabanu.
The daffodil, also known in Thai as “Dararat” is reminiscence of HM King Bhumibol’s favorite flower which he often presented to HM Queen Sirikit during their stay in Switzerland and signifies hope, honor and bravery. The Rose signifies true love and loyalty that the Thai people have for HM King Bhumibol. The Cotton Rose also known in Thai as “Dok Phuttan” means fertility and stability much like the lands in the country. Considered an auspicious flower which has the special property of turning three types of colors in a day, is also symbolic of the turning cycle of life.
The White Lily represents honesty while the Orchid is for the benevolence of HM King Bhumibol during his reign as King and Father of Thailand with great qualities of stability, grace and love during the course of his many royal activities that involve the people. The two new flowers are the Chabathip which means demise and the divinity of spirit during the final tribute as the late King Bhumibol is forever in the hearts of the Thai people and the Chabanu which aptly symbolizes the deep sympathy and heartfelt condolences of all people who have come to pay their respect to the great king, especially the heart of the Thai people.
As the Royal Cremation ceremony draws near, the 25th to 29th October 2017, has been set aside for the ceremony but the actual cremation day will be on the 26th of October 2017 and has been declared a public holiday as a mark of respect. The sandalwood flowers are collected from all corners of the Kingdom of Thailand and will be presented to the Royal Household in the last few weeks preceding to the Royal Cremation ceremony. Do watch the video to have an idea of how intricate it is to make these wonderful scented flowers for the cremation ceremony, which is also another mark of history in the making.