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Cosmology in the Royal Cremation

Oct 23. 2017
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By The Nation

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The Royal Crematorium is modelled after the mythical mountain Sumeru, the centre of the universe in Buddhist cosmology.

In ancient Thai kingdoms, the concept of a divine king was firmly established and institutionalised, with influences from Hinduism. The king is believed to be the reincarnation of a god while HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX) was also highly revered as a divine king.

As the word "Ramathibodi" appears in his full name, King Bhumibol is upheld as an avatar of Vishnu or Narayana. When he departs, he returns to his heavenly dwelling on Mount Sumeru, where all gods and goddesses live eternal lives as stated in the Buddhist text "Traiphumikatha" or "The story of the Three Planes of Existence".

The construction of the Royal Crematorium is the pride of the kingdom's rich heritage. It comprises nine busabok-style pavilions sitting on a three tiers, with a staircase on each of the four sides.

On the topmost tier, the centrepiece of the Royal Crematorium, is the seven-tiered, spire-roofed Principle Pavilion, which will house the Royal Urn and the Royal Cremation Panels.

Each of the four corners on the second tier have five-tiered, roofed Monk's Pavilions called sang, which will be used by monks to chant scriptures during the ceremony.

The remaining four pavilions are located at each of the four corners on the first tier, consists of the Dismantling Halls, or Ho Plueang, which are used to keep the Outer Royal Urn and the Sandalwood Royal Urn after the inner urn is placed on the funeral pyre (Phra Chittakathan), as well as to keep various items used in the Royal Cremation Ceremony.

It is surrounded with the ceremonial fence, or Rajawat.


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