After a year of mourning, King Bhumibol Adulyadej is to be cremated in Bangkok. Hundreds of thousands of citizens are expected to attend their revered monarch’s five-day final send-off.
Thousands of mourners were on the streets of Bangkok on Wednesday after braving a night of torrential downpours followed by blistering tropical heat. After observing a year of reverence for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thailand has begun the elaborate five-day funeral for their longtime monarch.
Police broke up some brief scuffles that broke out on Wednesday morning between crowds of uncomfortable mourners waiting to get into the cordoned-off area where the ceremony will take place.
The first part of the ceremony involved the late monarch’s son,King Maha Vajiralongkorn, performing a Buddhist merit making ceremony in the throne hall of Dusit palace with other members of the royal family.
Bhumibol died in October 2016 at the age of 88, after seven decades on the throne. The Thai monarchy is treated with extreme deference and more than 250,000 people are expected to witness the king’s funeral, which will also be broadcast live on television.
The king was revered not only because of the country’s draconian legal protections around the royal family, but also because of his long reign and charitable work. He was seen as a sign of stability in a nation often rocked by political turmoil.
More than 12 million people, or one-fifth of the country’s population, have come to Dusit palace over the past year to see the king’s body.
The apex of the ceremony is set to take place on Thursday night, when Bhumibol’s body will be cremated inside an elaborate golden structure that represents the mystical Mount Meru, which is considered the center of all universes in Buddhist and Hindu cosmology.
es/se (AP, dpa)