TENS OF THOUSANDS of people from all over the country thronged to the Sanam Luang area to bid a final farewell to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
While they all strove to get a place close to the Royal Cremation ceremonial grounds, not everyone was lucky enough to make it and witness the royal procession with their own eyes.
In the afternoon yesterday, the joint command centre of the Royal Cremation Ceremony announced that 157,778 people had been admitted into the ceremonial grounds. However, an even greater number were outside the screening gates and in the vicinity. These people would have to be content with being as close as possible to the funeral of the late monarch outside the ceremonial grounds.
It was a sunny day with just a few clouds in the sky when the Royal Cremation Ceremony began on schedule at 7am. But soon loyal subjects had to come to terms with the reality that the moment they had long dreaded was now fast approaching.
The first half of the religious ceremony took place inside the Grand Palace, which was telecast over large screens at the event grounds.
Once the Royal Urn was transported by the Phra Yannamas Sam Lam Khan, or the Palanquin with Three Poles, out of the Grand Palace and the royal procession started, people at the ceremonial grounds watched with rapt attention, paying their respects to the Royal Urn as the procession passed in front of them.
At the north of the ceremonial grounds beyond the royal procession route, people waited patiently in the hope that they might have a chance to see the royal procession with their own eyes, even if from a distance.
Knita Budsapha, a 52-year-old farmer from Sukhothai province, was there during the royal procession and described it as the most momentous event in her life, which she would never forget.
“After I had been waiting for more than 30 hours, in the end the golden spire of Phra Maha Phichai Ratcharot Chariot appeared before me with the sound of music that played during the royal procession. Even though it was very far away, I could still see,” Knita said.
“I cannot explain my feelings at that moment. I am happy to have had the chance to be involved in the Royal Cremation Ceremony, but as the realisation dawned on me that these would be the last moments my beloved King would be on Earth, my heart is feeling the pain and I am full of grief.”
As the Royal Urn was taken to the Royal Crematorium, many people started to cry silently. Even the weather seemed to reflect the people’s |collective grief as dark clouds cast a pall over Sanam Luang.
Beyond the perimeter of the Royal Cremation |ceremonial grounds, people who could not enter the royal event also expressed similar feelings.
Pimolrat Khetkaew, a 50-year-old woman from Songkhla province, was watching the live broadcast of the royal procession on television at a small |restaurant in a small alley near Khao San Road along with some 10 other mourners.
“I came here with my elderly mother but we could not enter the ceremonial ground because the queue was too long. We also cannot gather with the rest of the people outside at Rajdamnoen Avenue because it was so crowded and we could not even breathe. So, we came here and we’re watching the ceremony with the restaurant owner,” Pimolrat said.
As the first royal procession appeared on the TV screens, there were tears in many people’s eyes. People in the small restaurant watched the live broadcast in silence.
Pimolrat said she was very saddened by the departure of the late King, but added that his legacy and memories would always be in her heart. Like Knita, Pimolrat also pledged to abide by the late King’s lessons on sufficiency economy and mixed agriculture.
“King Bhumibol taught us several good lessons and what we have to do now is to continue his will and live by his lessons,” she said.
Published : October 26, 2017
By : Pratch Rujivanarom The Nation