By The Nation
HIS MAJESTY King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) completed his enthronement |rituals to become the 10th King of the Chakri Dynasty, honouring venerable traditions and customs, on the first day of the Royal Coronation at the Grand Palace in Bangkok on Saturday.
Day one of the three-day auspicious and symbolic ceremony was the most significant in the coronation ceremony, which consisted of a purification bath, the anointment, the crowning of the King and the investiture to declare his regal power.
HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn sits inside a specially erected pavilion in preparation for the Song Phra Muratha Bhisek or the purification bath on Saturday.
People in yellow shirts (yellow is considered the colour of Monday, the day of birth of the current monarch) gathered outside the Grand Palace to join in what is considered a once-in-a-lifetime historic occasion.
The last time Thais witnessed this centuries-old royal tradition, which derives from Hinduism and Buddhism and is full of religious symbolism, was during the coronation of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) on May 5, 1950.
HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn arrived at the Grand Palace at 10am together with Queen Suthida and his three children – their Royal Highnesses Princesses Bajrakitiyabha and Sirivannavari Nariratana and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn along with many other members of the Royal Family also attended. The King then proceeded to the Amarindra Vinijaya Throne Hall and the Baisal Daksin Throne Hall to light candles and pay his respects to the Triple Gems, the Buddha statues of the previous nine Kings of Chakri Dynasty and the royal regalia.
The purification bath
The consecrated water flows from a canopied showerhead for Song Phra Muratha Bhisek or the purification bath of HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Saturday.
At 10.09am, the chosen auspicious time, the 66-year-old monarch changed into a gold-trimmed white cloth to participate in Song Phra Muratha Bhisek, or purification bath. He had the purification bath sitting on a fig-wood bench inside a specially erected pavilion with a tiered roof, adjacent to the Chakrapat Biman Royal Residence. Air Chief Marshal Satitpong Sukvimol, the permanent secretary of the Royal Household Bureau, sought the King’s permission to allow the consecrated water to flow from a canopied showerhead. As the consecrated water started flowing, the Brahmin priests blew conch shells and musicians played various instruments to mark the auspicious occasion, while the Armed Forces offered their salutes with artillery and cannon fire.
The water used for this ritual came from five principal rivers around the country and from four ancient ponds in Suphan Buri. The rivers – together referred to as Bencha Suttha Khongkha and representing five rivers in India, the origin of these traditions – are the Bang Pakong, Pasak, Chao Phraya, Ratchaburi and Phetchaburi. The four ponds are Sa Ket, Sa Kaeo, Sa Khongkha and Sa Yamuna.
The Supreme Patriarch pours water of benediction over the King’s hands on Saturday.
The Supreme Patriarch, His Holiness Somdet Phra Ariyavongsagatayana, later poured water of benediction over the King’s back and hands. Two high-ranking senior members of the Royal Family, MC Pusarn Svasti and MC Chulcherm Yugala, poured the consecrated water from the vessel on the King’s hands. The chief Brahmin priest, Phra Maha Ratcha Khru Sri Wisutthikul, next offered him the sacred vessels with the water and the King poured the water over his head.
His Majesty pours on his head the consecrated water given by the chief Brahmin priest on Saturday.
A bael leaf, with its three points symbolising Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, was also presented to His Majesty to be placed behind his right ear. MC Ticomporn Yugala later presented him water from 22 vessels made from different materials like gold, silver, copper to jade and bronze, one after another and His Majesty poured the water over his shoulders.
The anointment of Kingship
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha presents the monarch the anointing water at the Atha Disa Udumbara Raja Asana Throne on Saturday.
The next procedure was the most significant rite – Abhisek or the royal anointment. HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn changed into bejewelled regal vestments for the ceremony in the Baisal Daksin Throne Hall. He sat on the octagonal Atha Disa Udumbara Raja Asana Throne, which is made of intricately carved fig wood.
For the anointing, the water was drawn from 107 sources in 76 provinces and from the Satrakom Hall within the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The water was presented to him from the eight cardinal directions of the compass, representing the breadth of the Kingdom, as he turned in a clockwise manner to receive each one, starting from the east, considered the primary direction.
Senior members of the Royal Family and high-ranking officials served as Thai people’s representatives to present him the anointing water. MC Pusarn Svasti started from the east, followed by MC Mongkolcharlerm Yugala and MC Chalermsuk Yugala.
HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn receives the anointing water from Privy Council President and statesman Prem Tinsulanonda at the Atha Disa Udumbara Raja Asana Throne on Saturday.
They were followed by Privy Council President and statesman Prem Tinsulanonda, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, National Legislative Assembly president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, Supreme Court president Cheep Chulamon, scholar Charas Suwanwela and Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda.
The chief Brahmin priest then presented him with the Nophapadol Maha Saweta Chatra – the white, nine-tiered umbrella that is the most important symbol of the supreme sovereign.
The investiture and the installing of Her Majesty
The chief Brahmin priest chants prayers seeking blessings for the King at the Bhadrapitha Throne during the investiture ritual on Saturday.
The crowning and investiture ceremonies were held later at the opposite throne, called Bhadrapitha. The chief Brahmin priest presented the monarch the Phra Maha Phichai Mongkut (the Great Crown of Victory) for the King to crown himself. Phra Suphannabat, or the Royal Golden Plaques upon which are inscribed his royal official full title and his horoscope, together with the royal seal of state, the royal regalia, the royal utensils, and the weapons of sovereignty were offered next.
The chief Brahmin priest presents Phra Maha Phichai Mongkut or the Great Crown of Victory to the King.
After completing the bestowment of kingship, His Majesty addressed his first Royal Command in Thai, which was literally translated as “I shall continue, preserve, and build upon the royal legacy and shall reign with righteousness for the benefit of the people forever.”
HM the King anoints Queen Suthida with the royal title of Her Majesty on Saturday.
Queen Suthida, who was named the new Queen on May 1 after the Royal Gazette announced their marriage on that day, was bestowed the official title of Her Majesty with sacred water from the conch shell together with sacred powder on her forehead as she prostrated herself in front of the King. The 41-year-old Queen was also presented with royal decorations, insignias and royal utensils.
The final procedure
HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn grants an audience at the Amarindra Vinijaya Throne Hall on Saturday.
In the afternoon session, the King granted an audience to members of the Royal Family, the Privy Council and the Cabinet and other high-ranking officials in the Amarindra Vinijaya Throne Hall. He then proceeded to Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, in a royal |procession to declare his willingness to become the Royal Patron of Buddhism.
His Majesty the King is carried on a palanquin to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to proclaim himself the
Royal Patron of Buddhism.
Later, members of the Royal Family also attended a ritual known as Chalerm Phra Raja Montien – the assumption of the royal residence – similar to a private housewarming celebration at the Chakrapat Biman Royal Residence.
The complete ceremonies
The royal procession from the Grand Palace to Wat Bovoranives, Wat Rajabopidh and Wat Phra Chetuphon is rehearsed. King Rama X on Sunday pays respects to the principal Buddha statues and the ashes of previous kings and queens.
The second day of the ceremony on Sunday sees the ceremonial bestowal of royal names and new titles upon members of the Royal Family. This will be followed by a royal procession along a seven-kilometre route from the Grand Palace to Wat Bovoranives, Wat Rajabopidh and Wat Phra Chetuphon.
At each temple, the King will pay his respects to the principal Buddha statues and the ashes of previous Kings and Queens while at the same time giving the public a chance to greet the new monarch. On the final day, May 6, the King will grant a grand public audience in the Grand Palace.
The royal barge procession to Wat Arun to present kratin – gift of robes presented to monks after the end of the Buddhist Lent – will be held in late October.
HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne after his father King Bhumibol passed away on October 13, 2016 and the National Legislative Assembly acknowledged his accession in November the same year. The coronation ceremony is being held after over two years of mourning.
It is the 12th coronation during the 10 reigns of the Chakri Dynasty. Rama I, Rama V and Rama VI each underwent two coronation ceremonies, while Rama VIII died before being formally crowned.