10.03 info on Royal Cremation period in Bangkok

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updated 3rd October 2017

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Thailand is building up to what will be a historic period with final preparations under way for the funeral of the late King. The Royal Cremation Ceremony will be held in Bangkok from October 25-29. It will be a sad time for Thai people, but the country will remain as welcoming as ever for tourists and you will still be able to enjoy your trip. Although there is no need to change travel plans, please be respectful and if you are visiting Bangkok or other areas of Thailand in October, there are some important points to be aware of.







Key dates in October

October 5: Awk Phansa Buddhist holiday. Public holiday nationwide.

October 13: First anniversary of King Bhumibol’s death. Public holiday nationwide.

October 25: Funeral ceremonies for the King commence in Bangkok.

October 26: Cremation ceremony for the King. Public holiday nationwide.

October 27-29: Religious ceremonies continue in Bangkok.


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Starting Oct 25, the Royal Cremation ceremonies will run until Oct 29 at Sanam Luang in the Old Town. The first day features a merit-making ceremony at Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall at the Grand Palace. On the second day, the cremation itself will begin at Sanam Luang, where the late king’s body will be cremated. On the third day, the royal ashes will be collected, to be blessed on the fourth day during a second royal merit-making ceremony at the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall. On the fifth day, the royal urn will be taken to the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall.
 


Here is a list to key events and other changes to the normal running of Bangkok throughout that period. 


The funeral pyre will be set alight at 7pm, Oct 26

The 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, King's Own Bodyguard and the 1st Artillery Battalion, King's Guard on behalf of the Royal Thai Armed Forces will officially light the pyre, with events televised on channels 3, 7, 5, MCOT, Thai PBS, NBT.



Advice for Tourists
Thailand is building up to what will be a historic period with final preparations under way for the funeral of the late King. The Royal Cremation Ceremony will be held in Bangkok from October 25-29. It will be a sad time for Thai people, but the country will remain as welcoming as ever for tourists and you will still be able to enjoy your trip. Although there is no need to change travel plans, please be respectful and if you are visiting Bangkok or other areas of Thailand in October, there are some important points to be aware of.









Royal Cremation Ceremony

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The funeral ceremonies for HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej will take place in Bangkok from October 25-29. The actual cremation ceremony will be on October 26 at Sanam Luang, the ceremonial ground in front of the Grand Palace. This has traditionally been the venue for royal cremations and is where the intricate funeral pyre has been constructed by specialist workers and skilled artisans. Replicas of the Royal Crematorium will also be on display in every province in Thailand and candlelit services will be held in every town and city around the country during the funeral period.

Antique gilded chariots will be used in the royal processions that carry the funeral urn to Sanam Luang. The largest chariot used in the procession is so big and heavy it will require more than 200 men to pull it.


*Timeline for the cremation ceremonies:

October 25
A royal merit-making ceremony will be held at Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall inside the Grand Palace complex at 5.30pm. This is to prepare for the moving of the royal urn the following morning.

October 26
At 7am the royal urn containing the King’s body will make the short journey from Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall to the Royal Crematorium on Sanam Luang. The Royal Cremation Ceremony is scheduled to commence at 5.30pm. The actual cremation is scheduled for 10pm. In final tribute, there will be performances of traditional khon masked dramas and orchestral performances from 6pm on October 26 until 6am the following day.

October 27
The collection of royal relics will take place at the Royal Crematorium on Sanam Luang at 8am.

October 28

At 5.30pm, a merit-making ceremony will be held for the royal relics at Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall inside the Grand Palace complex.

October 29
The royal relics will be moved at 10.30am from the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall and will be enshrined in the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall. Later in the day at 5.30pm the royal ashes will be enshrined at two temples in Bangkok; Wat Ratchabophit and Wat Bovoranives.

Other dates

Rehearsals for the royal procession are scheduled to be held at Sanam Luang in Bangkok on October 7 and 15



Source of information: http://www.kingrama9.net/



Free pubic transport Oct 25-27 to Sanam Luang

To ease traffic congestion, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has announced that the BRT, public boats and parts of the BTS will be free to use on Oct 25-27. According to Thai PBS, the full Sukhumvit and Silom BTS lines will be free on Oct 26, with the On Nut-Samrong and Wongwian Yai-Bang Wa extensions free for the full three days. The MRT subway will also be free all day on Oct 26.




The Royal Crematorium zone will stay open to public for one month

Brought to life in just nine months (a project this size would normally take three years), HM King Bhumibol’s funeral pyre represents the pinnacle of modern Thai craftsmanship. The Royal Crematorium zone surrounding the pyre will stay open for one month following the cremation to give people a chance to witness the incredibly intricate building. It will be open to the public from 7am-10pm, Nov 1-30.




Attending the funeral

Sanam Luang will attract massive crowds for the Royal Cremation Ceremonies. There is nothing to say tourists can’t attend, but if you do want to go there are lots of rules of etiquette involved. You will need to wear black and be aware that there are restrictions about who and what you can and can’t photograph without causing offence. It will also be a day that will severely test your stamina. The Sanam Luang area will be hot, potentially rainy and extremely crowded. Thai mourners will arrive early and wait patiently for many hours to try and secure their spot. If you are still intent on going it would be helpful if you attended with a Thai person or somebody who can speak Thai and has a good knowledge of Thai culture.

This is also an event that will be attended by heads of state from around the world and security will be heightened. You will probably be asked to show your passport before gaining access to Sanam Luang. Thai people are required to carry ID cards.

As an alternative to attending the actual cremation ceremony, you could attend the full dress rehearsals for the royal procession. These are scheduled to be held at Sanam Luang in Bangkok on October 7 and 15.





Large crowds are expected

According to The Nation, the crowd at Sanam Luang on on Oct 26 is expected to reach 250,000 people.




Merit-making

At most funerals in Thailand the deceased is cremated approximately three days after dying. However, for somebody of high status it is not unusual for there to be a prolonged period between death and cremation and this is actually a show of love and respect for the deceased. Thai Buddhists believe that all of the religious rites and merit-making ceremonies carried out between death and cremation ease the path for the deceased and enables the departed to benefit in the next life. According to Thai Buddhist belief, whilst the body is still present the spirit can benefit by the gifts offered, the sermons preached and the religious chants uttered in its presence. The cremation ceremony marks the final departure of the spirit from the mortal world.






Eighty-five Royal Crematorium replicas will be placed around the country

Replicas of the Royal Crematorium at Sanam Luang will be placed in each of the 76 provinces, as well as at nine sites in and around Bangkok. These are: the Royal Plaza, the former Government Lottery Office, Nagaraphirom Park, King Rama I Plaza, Dhupateme Royal Thai Air Force Sports Stadium, Bitec Bang Na, Buddha Monthon Park, Khon Muang Plaza at City Hall, and King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang.






Oct 13 and Oct 26 have been declared public holidays
One year to the day on which the late King died, on Oct 13, will be recognized as a public holiday. The second public holiday, on Oct 26, falls on the day of the cremation. Wat Pho, Wat Arun and Wat Benchamabophit will remain open as normal on both days.






People can participate in funeral-flower laying rituals 
in the temples closest to their homesFor people who can’t travel to Sanam Luang, many temples such as Wat Indra Viharn, Wat Mahannapharam, Wat Ben Cha Ma Bophit Dusit Wana Ram Ratchaworawihan and Wat Racha Thiwat Worawihan will set up places for them to lay their flowers.






Rehearsals of the funeral procession take place on Oct 7, 15
With the participation of over 2,000 officials, the three funeral processions to carry the Royal Urn of HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej from the Grand Palace to Sanam Luang are scheduled for rehearse on Oct 7 and 15.





The Grand Palace will remain closed to the public till Oct 30
The Grand Palace and The Temple of the Emerald Buddha will be closed to the public from Oct 1-29. However, the nearby temples (Wat Arun, Wat Pho and Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple) will remain open.





There is no formal ban on nightlife
Though there are no official restrictions for nightlife venues, the government has asked for clubs and bars to show respect during the funeral period. Expect many entertainment spots to be closed on Oct 26. .





Etiquette

If you’ve visited Thailand before you will already know the immense amount of love and respect there is for King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The late King was regarded as the ‘Father of the Nation’ and for many Thais his death was like losing a member of the family. Please do not underestimate how much the King meant to Thai people and do show consideration during this time. Some Thai people have been wearing black since the King died. Others did so for a month during the official mourning period last year. With October 13 marking the anniversary of the King’s death, the majority of Thai people will again be wearing black from this date until the cremation ceremony is complete. Visitors won’t be expected to do the same, but out of respect for the Thai people and the late King, please do try to wear a black top or a white top with a black ribbon on October 13 and October 26. But if you can wear a black ribbon throughout the period from October 13-27 that would be a lovely gesture and one that will be appreciated by the Thai people you meet. After the King died last year, black ribbons were handed out for free to tourists at airports, hotels and shops and it is likely that this will happen again ahead of the funeral.


On the beach, the simple advice is to wear what you normally would. Don’t sunbathe nude (which has never been polite in Thailand) and use some common sense when you are away from the beach. Many Thai islands and beach resorts are heavily reliant on tourism so there is likely to be more leeway compared to if you are in a city like Bangkok or Chiang Mai. Despite that, visitors should still be sensitive to the fact that many restaurant owners, hotel staff and store owners will be thinking about the late King. When you go out in the evening wearing a black ribbon or muted colours will be appreciated, but not demanded. To a certain extent, follow the lead of the Thai people around you and assess the mood. It may vary from location to location so use your own judgement. If you are travelling with children the most important thing for them is to be comfortable in the heat. There is no need to make any changes to what you are planning to pack for younger children. For older children and teenagers, try to explain why Thai people are wearing black tops or black ribbons. If your children want to wear black ribbons too, it will reflect positively on you as a parent and won’t go unnoticed by appreciative locals.






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