BANGKOK: Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej will receive a lavish send-off this week during a spectacular five-day funeral centred on a cremation at a gilded pyre in Bangkok’s historic heart on Thursday (Oct 26).
Steeped in centuries of royal tradition and overseen by strict palace protocols, the elaborate US$90 million (S$123 million) ceremony will draw an estimated quarter million Thais to bid farewell to the “father” of the nation, who died last year aged 88.
Here are a few things to know about the funeral of a king revered as a demi-god who reigned for seven decades.
At the heart of the cremation complex is a 50m-high funeral pyre symbolising Mount Meru, the allegorical centre of the universe in Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cosmology.
The gold-painted structure is adorned with dozens of intricate sculptures of animals, deities and mythical creatures from Buddhist and Hindu lore.
Pride of place will go to sculptures of the late king’s beloved dogs.
While sombre, the funeral is also a celebration as the late king ascends to heaven, with music and traditional dancers a key part of the ceremony.
The funeral formally begins on Oct 25 with a Thai Buddhist religious ritual. It will be led by King Bhumibol’s only son King Maha Vajiralongkorn, known as Rama X.
Three days of ceremonies to remove royal relics from the ashes will follow. The ashes will be taken to the Grand Palace while the relics will be enshrined in two temples.