By THE NATION
Among the many tributes organised to pay respect to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, few, if any, reach the same dizzying heights as the Father’s Tree sculpture currently on show at high-end shopping mall Central Embassy.
Standing 6.75-metres tall and boasting expansive branches, the tree symbolises the seeds of the late King’s eternal grace. Hanging from its branches are heartfelt messages written on special silver leaves, 99,999 in total, which at the end of the exhibition will be recreated into nine bells and presented to Rama IX Kanchanapisek Temple.
The sculpture is part of an exhibition “King of Our Hearts” showing at Central Embassy until January 31.
It opened with a candlelight vigil on the theme “Our Hearts for the Country’s Father”, which was attended by Central Group executives including Yuwadee Chirathivat, Mukda Uahwatanasakul, Ratana Norpanlop, and Pichai, Nidsinee Chirathivat, Sirikate Chirakiti, and Barom Bhicharnchitr. Among the VIP guests were Swiss ambassador Ivo Sieber, his Hungarian counterpart, Peter Jakab, Araya Kanjanapongkul, Panchalee Penchart, Monlatcha Skulthai , MR Powari Suchiva, Siriyos Devahasdin na Ayudhya, Patcharapimon Youngprapakorn, Nantawan Sangthamkitgul, Kongthanatkul Sethisathaporn, Pattharapol Puengboonpra, Yuthana and Anchalee Vikasitnakakul, Preeya and Pornchanok Jirakiertivadhana, Surivipa Poonpipat, Ritthi Bunnag and Vanda and Pakwan “Mali” Sahawong.
Participants, many of whom lined the street outside, sang “Father’s Tree” and “The Righteous King” with Kittinan Chinsamran to the accompaniment of the Rattanakosin Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Trisdee Na Patalung. The atmosphere was deeply touching and many people shed tears as they mourned the nation’s loss.
“King of Our Hearts” is a rotating exhibition covering the Mahidol Family. “The Route of International Affairs, running from December 22 to January 11, explores the late Monarch’s relationships with other countries. “Blessings of Bhumibol”, taking place from January 13 to 31, focuses on his 49 musical compositions, all of which reflect on various values such as encouragement, love and truth.
This section also features the New Year greeting cards His Majesty gave to his subjects between 1986 an 2015 and visitors can retain this lovely memory by taking home reprinted cards as a souvenir.
“Nai Luang”, meanwhile, showcases 99 portraits of the King created by 99 local and international artist and continues through January 31.
Members of the public are invited to write messages on the silver leaves, available at Central Embassy and message writing points at every Central Department Store nationwide. The leaves will be hung on the Father’s Tree at the end of the exhibition before these are shaped into the nine bells for donation to the temple. The silver bells are designed by the 2015 National Artist (sculpture) Professor Vichai Sitthirat.
Vanda Sahawong, wife of the late actor Trisadee “Por” Sahawong, said: “Today I have brought Mali with me to write a message on behalf of our family – Por, myself, and Mali – to remind ourselves that we will always follow in His Majesty’s footsteps. Por too always followed the King’s example, sacrificing personal happiness for the greater good. I will continue to honour this value and teach Mali to do the same.”