The funeral ceremony for HRH Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda will take place at Sanam Luang ceremonial ground in Bangkok next month on April 9. The princess was the only child of former king, Rama VI, and a cousin of Thailand’s present monarch, HM Bhumibol Adulayadej (Rama IX). The princess died last July at the age of 85. When such prominent people pass away in Thailand it isn’t unusual for the cremation to take place a long time after the actual death. This allows time for appropriate arrangements to be made, an auspicious date and time to be chosen and for the various merit-making ceremonies which, in Buddhist belief, help the deceased in their next life. Since her death, the princess has been lying in state at the Dusit Maha Prasart Throne Hall which is located within the Grand Palace compound in Bangkok. The last major royal funeral ceremony in Thailand was for the king’s sister, HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana, which took place in November 2008.
Mourning Period April 8-10
There will be a three-day mourning period in Thailand next month where visitors may notice some differences. Thai flags on public and private buildings may be flown at half-mast and night entertainment venues will be asked to suspend their business from April 8-10. Television and radio stations are also expected to alter their schedules during the 3-day period. April 9 has also been declared as a public holiday in Thailand.
The Cremation Ceremony
The first minor rehearsal for the April 9 ceremony took place last week and another has taken place today. The final major rehearsal for the funeral will take place on March 31. Traffic restrictions will be in place in Bangkok around Sanam Luang, the Grand Palace and the general Rattanakosin area on March 31 and during the various ceremonies from April 9-12. On the morning after the April 9 cremation, the ashes of the late princess will be collected and escorted to the Dusit Maha Prasart Throne Hall within the grounds of the Grand Palace. Another ceremony will take place on April 12 to mark the final resting place of the ashes at the Throne Hall.
Following the cremation ceremony, the pavilion and crematorium at Sanam Luang will be open for the public to visit from April 11-17. The royal crematorium which has been constructed at Sanam Luang is a temporary structure and will later be removed. A permanent exhibition in honour of HRH Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda will also be set up at Sanam Chandra Palace (in Nakhon Pathom) which was built by her father, King Rama VI. As part of the royal funeral, three open-air stages will be set up close to Sanam Luang. These will host performances of traditional Thai masked drama and are scheduled to take place from 19.00 on April 9 to 06.00 on April 10. The performances are free to all and overseas tourists are welcome to visit.
Photo credit: Facebook page We Love Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda