The Royal Cremation Procession Ceremony


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The culmination of events that eventually leads to the Royal Cremation for the Royal Remains of the late King of Thailand, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej will start on the 26th October at 06.00 hr from the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall to the Royal Crematorium at Sanam Luang and ending on the 29th October with the enshrinement of ashes and relics to various temples throughout the country. The Royal Cremation Ceremony is attended by HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, members of the Royal Family, government dignitaries and leaders of other countries and other VVIPs.

The entire Royal Cremation ceremony will consist of six (6) main processions with the accompaniment of thousands of uniformed guardsmen in various styles of traditional uniforms, horses, carriages and entourage. Mourners coming to pay their last respects and to offer sandalwood flowers have been streaming into Bangkok city since the weekend, and most coming from distant provinces have braved the torrential rains to secure a place outdoors along the routes of the Royal Cremation procession in hopes of getting a glimpse of the carriage and to bid a final farewell to this much loved Father of Thailand and the legendary King of Kings, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX).

Photo credits : The Royal Cremation Ceremony

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The first procession involves the transferring of the Royal Urn from the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall in the Royal Grand Palace at approximately 07.00 in the morning of the 26th October 2017. The Royal Urn will be carried on the Phra Yannamas Sam Lam Khan or Triple Pole Royal Palanquin from Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall. This palanquin is intricately carved in wood, gilded in gold and decorated with mirrors. Consisting of a large four-tiered base it has three carrying poles that requires 60 able-bodied men to joist it in two shifts. This palanquin is used to transfer the Royal Urn from the Throne Hall to the waiting Great Victory Chariot or also known as Phra Maha Phichai Ratcharot in Thai, at the Elevated Royal Pavilion, located at the eastern side of Wat Pho (or Wat Phra Chetuphon). This special chariot has been intricately carved, gilded, finely lacquered, and embellished with glass decorations. Originally built in the reign of King Rama I (circa 1795) it has been traditionally used to carry the royal urns of the Thai kings, queens and immediate members of their royal families. The Royal Urn is lifted onto a small pavilion called a “Busabok” which sits in the middle of the carriage and hoisting of the Royal Urn is done by a special levered slide.

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Photo credit : The Royal Cremation Ceremony

The second procession with the Royal Urn on board the Great Victory Chariot at Wat Phra Chetuphon will then make its way to the Royal Crematorium which is located at Sanam Luang. The Royal Cremation ceremony will then proceed with the following third procession around the crematorium before the Royal Cremation Ceremony starts from 17.30 hr till 22.00 hr (which is the actual time of the cremation).

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In the third procession, the Royal Urn will be transferred from the Great Victory Chariot onto the Rajarot Rang Puen or Royal Gun Carriage. The Royal Gun Carriage is normally used to carry the Royal Urn of a King with a military service for three counter clockwise rounds of the Royal Crematorium followed by the accompanying entourage to finally be carried onto the Principal Pavilion (Busabok) for the eventual cremation process at 22.00hr, thus completing the cremation pyre. To mark the end of the official mourning period, a series of festivities and traditional public performances such as the Khon traditional dances, orchestra and puppet shows will be on hand to entertain the public from 18.00hr running through the night till 06.00hr of the next day the 27th October 2017.

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The fourth procession will be the following day on the 27th October 2017, starting at 08.00 hr where the Royal Relics and Royal Ashes will be transferred from the Royal Crematorium to the Grand Palace, and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This Royal Relics will be carried on the Rajendrayan or Royal Palanquin with four poles that requires 56 strong bodied men to carry. This palanquin was used by the King on his Royal Coronation Ceremony from the Palace to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, but now used to carry the Royal Reliquary Urn with the Royal Relics from the Royal Crematorium. The Rajendrayan Noi or Small Royal Palanquin with Four Poles will be used to carry the Royal Ashes from the Royal Crematorium. The difference between this palanquin and the larger one for the Royal Relics is the celestial figure of Thep Phanom which is represented as a figurine with hands clasped to the chest in prayer.

The fifth and sixth procession will take place on the last day of the Royal Cremation Ceremony, the 29th October 2017 at 10.30 hr when the Royal Relics will be transferred from the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall to be enshrined in the Heavenly Abode of the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall. The Royal Ashes will be transferred by Royal motorcade at 17.30 hr from Phra Si Rattana Chedi, which is in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, to be enshrined at Wat Bovoranives and Wat Ratchabophit.

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Photo credit: Vayoon Usamran
Those who are interested to know more about the history, culture, building, statues and customs of the Royal Cremation ceremony in more detail can visit the exhibition of the Royal Crematorium in Sanam Luang from the 1st November till 30th November 2017. It is opened to the public for one month before it is to be torn down and archived.

Other Photo credits : Jurarat Puntasri

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