Farewell beloved Princess
Their Majesties the King and Queen kindle a fire beneath the funeral pyre
for the late Princess Galyani Vadhana. (AP Photo/Bureau of the Royal
Their Majesties the King and Queen attend religious rites for the late
H.R.H. Princess Galyani Vadhana, at the Dusit Throne Hall inside the Grand
Palace Friday, Nov. 14, 2008. (AP Photo/Bureau of the Royal Household)
Smoke rises above the crematorium of the late H.R.H. Princess Galyani
Vadhana during the royal cremation ceremony at the Phra Maen royal ground in
Bangkok. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
H.R.H. Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and H.R.H. Princess Sirindhorn walk in
the royal cremation procession for their aunt, the late Princess Galyani
(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)
H.R.H. Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn collects and places the remains of late
Princess Galyani Vadhana into a golden container at the crematorium at the
royal ground on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008. Her relics are to be kept at the
Grand Palace and at the temple for religious ceremonies later on. (AP
Photo/Bureau of the Royal Household)
H.R.H. Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn accompanies officials carrying the relics
of late Princess Galyani Vadhana from the crematorium to a waiting carriage.
(AP Photo/Bureau of the Royal Household)
man pays his respects to a portrait of the late Princess Galyani Vadhana
during her cremation procession in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)
Soldiers in ancient uniforms carrying the carriage with a Brahmin priest
tending to the relics of the late H.R.H. Princess Galyani Vadhana make their
way to the Grand Palace Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008. (AP Photo/Bureau of the Royal
Brahmin priest helps elevate the urn of late Princess Galyani Vadhana
on to the crematorium during the royal cremation rituals.
(AP Photo/Bureau of the Royal Household)
Thai people place sandalwood flowers at the portrait of H.R.H. Princess
Galyani Vadhana at Sanam Luang near the royal palace during the funeral
(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
The royal cremation procession for late Princess Galyani Vadhana moves
slowly past the grand palace towards the crematorium at Sanam Luang. (AP
Ambika Ahuja /
To the wail of conch shells and the thunder of cannon fire,
crimson-clad soldiers pulled a gilded chariot containing the body of Her
Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana, the sister of Thailand’s revered
king, to a seven-story pyre where she was cremated last Saturday evening.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-serving monarch,
kindled a fire beneath the funeral pyre containing his sister’s remains
after a day of Buddhist and Hindu rites for the princess. She died of
abdominal cancer 10 months ago at the age of 84.
More than 2,000 soldiers in dress uniform marched alongside the elaborate
chariot containing a tall gilded urn with the princess’s ashes in a funeral
procession from the glittering Grand Palace through the heart of old
Throughout the day more than 100,000 people lined the route under clear
skies to bid farewell to the princess, while millions of others watched on
Many indicated they wished to honor the beloved 80-year-old king as much as
“I am here to send her to heaven,” said Pairin Huasiri, a 69-year-old former
civil servant who came from Chonburi province, 60 kilometers south of
Bangkok, to pay his respects.
“The king has done a lot for the country and today we want him to know that
we are mourning with him,” he said.
Flanked by rows of drummers, trumpeters and conch-blowers, the slow-moving
procession ended at the crematorium - a temporary complex of pavilions built
by hundreds of Thai craftsmen over the past seven months.
In Buddhist temples around the country, Thais performed religious rites and
burned sandalwood flowers in her honor.
The grand six-day funeral ceremony officially started last Friday when the
king led the royal family in ceremony at the Grand Palace, with more than
100 specially chosen monks in attendance.
The color and pageantry has proved popular. Jiew, a ferry boat ticket booth
operator at the dock on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River nearest the procession
route, said the boats were overflowing with people traveling to the
“On a regular day we have fewer than 10,000 passengers. Today it has been
many, many, many. Maybe nearly 100,000,” he said.
Clad in black, 82-year-old Sanit Sompotong from Thonburi, across the river,
stood for hours for a glimpse of the procession.
“The wait is not a problem for the joy of being here to support the royal
family,” he said, surrounded by others wearing black who nodded their heads
The princess was noted for her interest in the arts, especially theater and
classical music, a taste cultivated when - like the king - she was educated
in Switzerland, where she spent much of her life.
Farewell beloved princess. You will forever remain in our hearts.
5,000 giant Khom Loys herald a traditional
and spectacular Yee Ping 2008 in Chiang Mai
Story & Photos by Michael Davies and
The magical beginning to Chiang Mai’s Yee Peng 2008 celebrations took
place, as usual, at the Lanna Dhutanka Meditation Centre in San Sai on
November 8. Thousands of people flocked to the grounds, (causing, of
course, traffic chaos and confusion), for the beginning of the
ceremonials at dusk.
As night fell, the Krathong parade began, with a traditional drum
display, and was followed by the specific and very beautiful Buddhist
ritual of prayer and worship for Yee Peng. Thousands of people took time
out to meditate in spiritual silence, reviewing the past year,
regretting ‘wrongs’ and celebrating ‘rights’ and hoping for happiness,
luck and prosperity in the year to come.
Finally, at a firework signal, 5,000 giant Khom Loys were released into
the night sky, floating gently upwards and creating an unforgettable and
very moving sight.
Over the last several years, the event has become better known and very
popular, both with residents and visitors, to the extent that, this
year, the municipality provided special Song Taews to transport
worshippers and revellers from the city to the site behind Mae Jo
University. More crowds, of course, means less room and more
disappointed people unable to get in, or out at the end, and it seems
that a large number of youngsters began arriving on site after the
ceremony to party until late, rather changing the spiritual as well as
celebratory focus of the evening’s event. Still, at least the CM Mail’s
photographer got a decent seat and a lift back to town on the Chedi’s
minibus! The start of his next year’s good luck, perhaps?
Yee Ping 2008 was officially opened by the Mayor of Chiang Mai, Dr.
Duentemduang na Chiengmai, on November 10 at the Three Kings Monument in
the old city, after which the festivities began in earnest, culminating
in the giant parade of floats from all the city’s districts held on
In between the two dates were more parades, beauty contests, firework
displays - everything which makes up this best-loved festival, with
parties and events going on all around the river and in the town and
Khom Loys being released from every possible direction.
On the evening of November 12, the smaller parade took place, with
floats, dancers, music, many different groups of both adults and
children dressed in traditional Lanna costume, and even, for the first
time, representatives of the Chiang Mai Friends’ Group, also in Lanna
The giant parade took place the following night, and had to be seen to
be believed, with tens of thousands of people from all over the province
and a very large number of foreign visitors and residents all crowded
along the route. Fireworks exploded everywhere, Khom Loys filled the
skies, and Krathongs floated gently on the river and the moat.
It was reported that an alcohol and smoking ban was in place along the
route but many people seemed unaware of this - and also unaware of the
authorities’ ban on releasing Khom Loys before 9.30.p.m. Altogether
though it was an amazing night to end Loy Krathong 2008.