Originally aired on Channel NewsAsia on October 27, 2017
Thailand bade farewell to late King Bhumibol Adulyadej Thursday in an elaborate, ritual-soaked funeral in Bangkok's historic quarter that gripped a nation mourning the loss of its chief unifying figure.
It is the end of a long reign as the worldly remains of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej is cremated inside the Royal Funeral Pyre, thus releasing his spirits into celestial heaven, according to Thai Buddhist-Hindu mythology.
The Royal Funeral Procession began in the early morning, as the symbolic urn has been transported out of the Grand Palace, where his body has lain for the past year ever since his passing on Oct 13, 2016 at the age of 88.
It was then carried on the Great Victory Chariot, carved out of wood and draped in gold leaf and accompanied by procession of over 2,400, including the late King’s children, Princess Sirindhorn and current King Maha Vajoralongkorn.
Its final destination: the Royal Funeral Pyre, purpose-built over eight months as a grand tribute to His Majesty.
Thousands of Thais were witnessing the proceedings from the sidewalks, many of them having queued up for days just to get a last glimpse of their beloved monarch. And for many, it is an emotional farewell.
For those that couldn’t be near the procession, officials have set up replicas of the pyre or portraits of the late King across the country where citizens could lay sandalwood flowers, a common ritual in Thai funerals.
And here too Thais did not want to pass the opportunity to pay their last respects to their revered monarch, as they came in droves, often waiting hours in line.
VOX POP THAI 1:
“I’m very moved and feel very sad deep inside...it’s like our father isn’t here anymore!”
VOX POP THAI 2:
“I’m glad to attend the funeral, but I’m also very feel sorrowful that His Majesty has passed. I’m very sad about this.”
VOX POP THAI 3:
“I’m very touched by (the funeral ceremony) and by seeing so many people from everywhere paying their last respects to His Majesty.”
SAKSITH SAIYASOMBUT, Bangkok, Thailand:
"The cremation of King Bhumibol Adulyadej marks the end of an era of the most popular monarch in modern Thai history. In 70 years of reign, he built up a legacy in which the royal institution is highly revered, powerful and seemingly untouchable.
For Thailand, this is a watershed moment, as its people have to come to terms with the passing of the only King they know and the dawn of a new era of his son, King Maja Vajiralongkorn."
Saksith Saiyasombut, Channel NewsAsia, Bangkok