Tens of thousands of Pattaya-area residents braved long lines, hot sun and intermittent rain to pay their last respects to HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Pattaya’s mirror royal cremation ceremony.
Lines stretched for more than a kilometer outside Chaimongkol Temple early Oct. 26 as mourners waited with artificial sandalwood flowers in hand to lay upon Pattaya’s scale replica of the royal crematorium in Bangkok. Police, soldiers and volunteers checked the massive crowd for weapons and also that mourners were dressed appropriately in black.
Banglamung District Chief Naris Niramaiwong led the first offerings to the late monarch at 7 a.m. with top area officials and civil servants laying their pulp flowers on the crematorium. The temple was packed, but the crowds remained reserved with many crying.
Finally, the gates opened to the public at 9 a.m., but the crowd far outsized the large temple, meaning even those who arrived at 7 a.m. couldn’t get inside until almost noon. Those arriving at 9 a.m. spent more than five hours in line as authorities admitted only 200 mourners at a time every five-to-10 minutes to manage the crowd inside.
Inside, mourners lined up nine in a row – later expanded to 18 to accommodate the crowd size – to lay their flowers. Mourners were instructed to hold the artificial daffodils above chest-level and use their right hand to offer the flower while bowing.
When exiting, each was given a pamphlet about the life of King Rama IX. People also could view a royal history exhibition and take photos at designated booths. A temporary cafeteria served meals, beverages and sweets for free.
So many people turned out to Chaimongkol that a late, urgent call went out to Jittapawan Temple to open its doors until 9 p.m. for overflow mourners. Flowers left there eventually were transported to Chaimongkol for that night’s cremation.
Official ceremonies got underway at 3 p.m. with Naris lighting the Bucharattanarai candle with Pattaya Mayor Anan Charoenchasri and his deputies. All inside the temple then observed 89 seconds of silence. Flower offerings were halted for the ceremonies, with mourners let in again starting at 5:30 p.m.
At 11:30 pm, a large LCD screen began to show the finale of the royal funeral at Sanam Luang with HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun leading the cremation of his beloved father. Pattaya officials mirrored the goings-on in Bangkok, burning the wood-pulp flowers.
Even after proceedings ended, mourners who couldn’t make it inside Chaimongkol earlier persisted, laying their flowers which later were brought to the crematorium.