A year later – Back to Black

It was about a year ago that Thailand’s beloved king of 70 years died. King Bhumibol’s cremation and funeral ceremony will be held Oct. 26, and once again, everyone is wearing black. We did this for a month after his death last year and now they expect everyone to do it again.

DSC_1282Another symbol being used is the marigold. The government is promoting their use for honoring the dead king. So, naturally, I’m showcasing a marigold gift plant in the front of my container garden. From flowermeaning.com:

Symbolism of the Marigold Flower

Aside from being offered as a sacrifice to gods from Christian, Aztec, Buddhist, Hindu, and Pagan religions, this little flower has strong ties to the sun and its power to resurrect. All types of Marigold offer the same basic meanings because they all share the same bright yellow, red, or orange color. Modern meanings focus on the sunny color and beauty, giving the flower a meaning of optimism and success. Marigolds were carried as love charms or spells in the Middle Ages by both genders who wanted to attract someone new.

What Does the Marigold Flower Mean?

Aside from being an important part of any organic garden as a pest deterrent, the Marigold has loftier meanings like:

  • Despair and grief over the loss of love
  • The beauty and warmth of the rising sun
  • Winning the affections of someone through hard work
  • Creativity and the drive to succeed
  • Desire for wealth
  • Cruelty and coldness due to jealousy
  • Sacred offerings to the Gods
  • Remembering and celebrating the dead
  • Promoting cheer and good relations in a relationship

It is hard to express the relationship the Thai people had with their king. The coming ceremonies are a huge deal. At least 250,000 people are expected in Bangkok for the ceremonies, and there will be 85 replicas of the cremation pavilion all around the country for Thais to pay their respects. Here is some information about what is happening:

Everything you need to know about the Funeral of King Bhumibol

By Richard Barrow

Nearly a year has passed since the passing of King Bhumibol on 13th October 2016. He was Thailand’s most revered King in living memory and the nation’s sorrow has been overwhelming. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people have queued up in the heat and rain to pay their last respects.

Nearly a year later, many Thais, and foreigners like myself who work in Thai schools, are still wearing black. Soon the day will come that nobody wants. The cremation of King Bhumibol.

Many foreign tourists and expats have asked me how the funeral will affect their holiday in Thailand. Here the latest information.

  • October 13 is a new public holiday marking the death of King Bhumibol
  • The royal funeral will take place from October 25-29.
  • The actual cremation ceremony will take place on Thursday, October 26.
  • October 26 has been declared a public holiday so that people can attend the funeral
  • People can go to the Grand Palace to pay last respects until September 30
  • The Grand Palace and The Temple of the Emerald Buddha will be CLOSED to the public, including tourists, from October 1-29. It will re-open on October 30.
  • There will be rehearsals for the royal procession at Sanam Luang on October 7, 15 and 21. I expect you will be able to take photos of this. But please dress respectfully.
  • The royal crematorium on Sanam Luang will be open to the public from November 1-30, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • The BTS skytrain will be free all day on October 26. On October 25 and 27, only the extensions from On Nut to Samrong, and Wongwian Yai to Bang Wa will be free.
  • The BRT bus service from Sathon to Ratchapreuk will be free from October 25-27
  • There will be free boat services from 9am to 4pm on October 25-26, and from 10am to 3pm on October 27. The boat service will go from the Commerce Ministry pier, the Nonthaburi pier and the Rama VIII Bridge pier in the North, and from Sathorn pier and Tha Pimarn pier in the South.
  • There will be restrictions on boat movement on the Chao Phraya River from Krung Thon Bridge to King Taksin Bridge. The main periods of time are from noon to 9pm on October 25 from 6am to 11pm on October 26, and from 8am to 2pm on October 27.
  • The Chao Phraya Express Boat will not stop at Tha Chang, Tha Phra Arthit and Tha Rajinee piers temporarily, but stop at Thewes pier in the northern part of the river and Talad Yodpimarn in the south instead. Ferries operating from Phra Chan Nuea, Maharaj, and Tha Chang piers will use Pinklao pier on the Bangkok side of the river, while ferries which operate from Tha Tian pier will use Rajinee pier instead. Tourist boats will use Pinklao pier on the Bangkok side of the river, as well as Rajinee pier.

October 25: A royal merit-making rite will be held to mark the start of the royal cremation ceremonies in the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall inside the Grand Palace.

October 26: The body of the late King will be moved from the throne hall to the royal crematorium at Sanam Luang where the royal cremation will be held.

October 27: Following the cremation, a royal ceremony will be held to collect the royal relics of the late King at the royal crematorium.

October 28: A royal merit-making rite for the royal relics will be held in the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall.

October 29: A royal ceremony will be held to enshrine the royal relics at the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall at 10:30 a.m., and the ashes of the late King will be kept separately at Wat Rajabopit and Wat Bowon Niwet.


Q: Can I attend the funeral?

A: Literally hundreds of thousands of people will be attending the funeral of King Bhumipol. I expect that as long as you dress respectfully in black, you will be able to attend. But, don’t expect to get close to the actual ceremony. I hear also there will be a special area reserved for foreigners. I will post more information on this when I get it.

Q: Can I take pictures of the royal family and the funeral ceremony?

A: You certainly cannot. You have to be accredited members of the media to be able to take photos and they will have many restrictions. And also, only a select few can get anywhere near the main ceremony. I am not going to even try.

Q: Will clubs and bars be closed during the funeral?

A: There has been no official announcement about this yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a ban on the sale of alcohol on October 26. The actual cremation will be taking place in the evening and it is unlikely that any bars will open that night. It is also possible that there might be a ban on the sale of alcohol for the main three days of the funeral, October 25-27.

Q: Are tourists expected to wear black?

A: You only need to wear black or grey if you are attending the funeral on Sanam Luang or at one of the many ceremonies held around the country.

Q: Will the shopping malls be closed?

The big shops rarely close for anything. Nothing officially has been announced on this, but I expect you will find the malls open as normal during the funeral. However, on the cremation day, and particularly in the evening, you might not find many people out and about. They will probably be at home watching the funeral on TV. So, smaller family run shops would most likely be closed on at least tOctober 26.

Q: Will the Grand Palace be open?

A: They have already announced that the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace will be closed to the public during most of October. It will re-open again on October 30.

Q: Will temples near the Grand Palace, like the Reclining Buddha and Temple of Dawn be open?

A: I expect these will be open as normal.

Q: Is it best to avoid Bangkok during the funeral?

A: Bangkok is a big city and there is no reason to avoid it. However, there will be a big movement of people to Sanam Luang, the site of the royal crematorium. It is best to avoid all roads and the river in that area during the five-day funeral. In particular on October 26. Khao San Road is also in this area and I wouldn’t personally stay here during the funeral.

Q: Will tourist attractions be open during October?

A: I expect most will be open as normal. However, government-run museums will be closed on the public holidays on October 13, 23 and 26.

Q: Will anything be closed on the royal cremation day?

A: Many leisure kind of activities and attractions will be closed on October 26. An owner of a golf club has already told me they will close on this day.

Q: Will public transport like the skytrain, buses and boats be open as normal?

A: Yes, of course. Life does go on. But, they’ve already announced that some services will either be free or have reduced fares. I would think that the skytrain will be very busy at major intersections like Siam, Victory Monument and Saphan Taksin. The busy period will be October 25-27 with October 26 being the busiest.

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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