Bangkok (AP) — Thailand marked one year since the death of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej with solemn ceremonies and acts of personal devotion Friday before an elaborate five-day funeral later this month.
Official commemorations of King Bhumibol were organized at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital, where he died, and at Government House and the ornate royal palace. But many ordinary people showed their respects on the streets, at neighborhood markets and temples, kneeling before orange-robed monks to perform a Buddhist merit-making ritual.
“You see his achievements on TV sometimes, but now that he has passed we are learning about so many other things he has done for the country,” said Panicha Nuapho, 66, who travelled from a province 330 kilometers north of Bangkok to pay respects at Siriraj Hospital. “This is my final send-off,” she said, weeping.
Outside the hospital, mourners clad in black offered alms to a long procession of Buddhist monks and several thousand packed its grounds, joining nurses and doctors in prayers as monks chanted over loudspeakers.
More than 12 million people, or nearly a fifth of Thailand’s population, have visited the palace throne hall where the King’s body has been kept for the past year.
The government asked members of the public to observe 89 seconds of silence Friday at 3.52 p.m., marking the official time of King Bhumibol’s death in what was his 89th year.
At the same time, nine elephants powdered an auspicious white knelt with their handlers in the ancient royal capital Ayutthaya outside of Bangkok.
The reigning monarch, King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarankun knelt before a portrait of the late King and Queen Sirikit at Dusit Palace and will preside over merit-making ceremonies on Friday and Saturday. Many people flocked to the palace area and left flowers beneath a giant portrait of King Bhumibol.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, accompanied by his wife Naraporn Chan-o-cha and members of the cabinet, attended a chanting ceremony and offered food to 89 monks in front of the Santi Maitree Building at Government House. Representatives from various government agencies and press members also took part in the religious ceremony.