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Inside the Lavish P4.6 Billion Funeral of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej

The year of mourning culminates in a spectacular ceremony.
IMAGE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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It’s been a full year of mourning for the Thai people as they grieve the loss of their beloved King.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej of the Chakri Dynasty ruled the Southeast Asian country for 70 years before he passed away on October 13, 2016. The mourning period will end in a five-day funeral taking place from October 25 to 29. This farewell is no simple affair, as it is said to have cost a total of 3 billion baht (or an estimated P4.6 billion).

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The king’s body, which has been laid to rest in a coffin for the duration of the mourning period, will be cremated and placed in an urn. A year’s worth of preparations has led to this grand farewell, with Thai architects, designers, and craftsmen working on a nine-part structure to house the remains of the king while it is cremated. Each elaborately-designed golden pavilion in the crematorium features statues of the king’s favorite dogs, sandalwood flowers, mythical creatures, and textiles that are said to amount to one billion baht. It is on the 165-foot-high central pavilion that the pyre will be set on flames. An estimated 250,000 people will attend this event.

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Hours after the death of the king was confirmed, two architects from the Thai Ministry of Culture were designated to work on this design, which they completed overnight. “We wanted to believe he hadn’t passed away but had to face the truth,” Korkiat Thongpurt, one of the two designers tells BK magazine. The designers were reportedly crying while they worked on what could be the greatest project of their careers. The cremation will take place on October 26, Thursday, which has been declared a national holiday.

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Apart from this grand gesture, the government has also ordered 85 replicas of the crematorium to be erected in 76 provinces nationwide, while 802 venues will be arranged for mourners to offer the late king cremation flowers or “dok mai chan” in his honor, reports the Bangkok Post.

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On Friday and Saturday, a merit-making ceremony will be led by his successor, his son King Maha Vajiralongkorn, known simply as Rama X, at the Grand Palace. The new ruler and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit will each place a wreath on the urn. Afterward, 30 monks will offer prayers for the departed king and one will give a sermon. Rama X will attend this same ceremony again on Saturday morning.

Dignitaries and leaders from across the globe will similarly pay respects to Adulyadej. Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Queen Maxima of Netherlands, King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wanghuck and Queen Jetsun Pema, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko of Japan, and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway are among those set to attend the five-day funeral.

While millions of Thais will pay their respects within the nation, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs will take the lead in ceremonies worldwide. Royal Thai Embassies and consulates in over 94 countries have arranged venues for mourners to offer sandalwood flowers to the king.

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After the funeral, preparations for the coronation of Rama X and a general election take place.

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About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Senior Staff Writer
Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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