On Monday, thousands of Thais gathered to give their last respects to Princess BejaratanaRajasuda Sirisobhabannavadi, who was the cousin of the current King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and the only child of King Vajiravudh, Rama VI. The elaborate funeral took place nearly nine months since the Princess passed away on July 27 2011 at the age of 85. This is because the most auspicious time had to be realized for the rites.
The funeral began at 7am local time when the urn carrying the remains of Bejaratana was transferred from Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall to the front of Wat Phra Chetupon, or Wat Pho, on top of the royal golden palanquin. From there, the urn was moved to a royal chariot.
The second procession saw the urn go to Sanam Luang along Sanam Chai Road. For the third procession, the urn went to the golden palanquin at Sanam Luang for three 260m laps of the phra meru, or royal funeral pyre.
At 4:30pm, King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit, along with Thailand’s highest ranking politicians – such as Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra – military officers and other members of the royal family, arrived to take part in the symbolic cremation ceremony. The King, making a rare public appearance, lit a sandalwood flower before putting it under the royal urn.
At 10pm, the royals and officials oversaw the actual cremation.
During that, fifty Buddhist monks chanted prayers in the Song Dhamma Pavilion, west of the phra meru while a 21-gun salute sounded through Bangkok.
Also during the cremation ceremony, a 50 person Ramayana masked dance performance which told the story of Nang Loy, written by King Vajiravudh. It lasted two hours.
Monday was the first day of Princess Bejaratana’s three day funeral. Tuesday, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will oversee the ceremony in whic the royal relics and ashes will then be returned to the Grand Palace more ceremonies.
Wednesday will see the relics and ashes be brought to the Royal Mausoleum at Wat Ratchabophit.
The phra meru will be opened for the public until next week.
Despite the rainy weather, the streets of Bangkok were crowded with mourners. They laid ‘dok mai jan’, or sandalwood flowers at three allowed spots around the royal ceremonial ground for the symbolic royal cremation in honor of Bejaratana.
They also went to 46 temples across the capital to lay the sandalwood flowers, while residents upcountry also visited designated temples to pay their last respects to the Princess.
Sources: Bangkok Post, MCOT