Sat, December 04, 2021

in-focus

Through the eyes of mourners


People tell how important it has been to participate in the final farewell, while they treasure late king’s legacy in their hearts.

LIKE TENS of thousands of Thai mourners who wanted to be as close as possible to the revered late monarch before his departure to Heaven, I camped out for 48 hours on Sanamchai Road, where his Royal Urn was to be placed upon the Phra Maha Pichai Ratcharot, or Royal Great Victory Chariot.

Through the eyes of mourners
Surrounded by a sea of mourners who have the same feeling in their hearts, His Majesty King Bhumibol will live forever for his subjects. He was more than a divine King, but a real person who touched the lives of all in the Kingdom. 
The night before the funeral began was silent and seemed longer than other nights. Despite strict security, the public was allowed to move around somewhat as people wanted to take photographs of the magnificent Royal Crematorium. Then at about 8pm, officials told everyone to remain silent and we later found out that the royal body had been transferred from the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall to the Royal Crematorium.

Through the eyes of mourners
By 4am on the day of the funeral, everybody was attentively interested in the preparations of the royal procession. The ceremony began at around 7am with an artillery salute marking the start of the Royal Cremation Ceremony. Like so many |others, there was a catch in my throat as my tears fell. 
When the Royal Urn was raised to be placed upon the Phra Maha Pichai Ratcharot, which I saw with my own eyes as I sat close to the area opposite Wat Pho, many grieving people broke into tears in a sea of emotion that followed in the wake of the royal procession. 

Through the eyes of mourners
Sitting next to me now is a 17-year-old student of the Praharuthai Convent School, Napasorn Sethapakdi, who during the past year has volunteered with 16 other young people to take photographs of events related to His Majesty. The project was initiated by the Fine Arts Department to record the historical events through the eyes of the younger generation. “I want to follow His Majesty’s teachings as he once said ‘take picture for the benefits of others’. I’m young and I have never seen anything so magnificent like the Royal Funeral procession. I want to record this rare and unforgettable event,” she said. 
A senior citizen couple, Sopon, 61, and Saowanee Nualta, 65, live close to Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin, where His Majesty often rested after undergoing treatment at Siriraj Hospital. On the day of the funeral, they wanted to be one small part of the sea of black-clad mourners despite having to wait for a day to get into the ceremonial grounds amid the rain.
“Although we know well that we should not let grief and suffering keep us from living, our lives will never be the same without the revered monarch. I feel lonely and my heart sinks. It was like we lost our chief guardian,” Sopon said.

Through the eyes of mourners
Meanwhile, a volunteer group of Baan Pornluang Ayutthaya was seen at the cremation grounds offering drinks to people.
“Everybody put their faith in His Majesty. He devoted everything for the better quality of the lives of all Thais. I believe all of us should do meritorious acts to escort His Majesty to Heaven,” Boonyaporn Uasukkul, 55, said with tears in her eyes.
A six-year-old boy named Vichai, who came with his parents and grandmother, said he could not hold back his tears when seeing the royal procession.
“Nai Luang [King Rama IX] is not dead, he is in our hearts forever,” he said.

Published : October 26, 2017

By : KUPLUTHAI PUNGKANON THE NATION