Cremation brings out the best in Thais

Cremation brings out the best in Thais

The night prior the ceremony, tens of thousands of Thais were eagerly waiting in a line that stretched as far as Sam Sen Road hundreds of metres away for a chance to participate in the historic moment.

Although fully aware that not all of them would be able to enter the already packed area of the ceremonial ground or be able to witness the event up close, they were still waiting.

I was utterly engrossed in the moment and witnessed the whole scene with much anticipation; it's not every day that one gets to be a face in the crowd and experience an event that matters to every life in this country.

The generosity of Thais had never been exhibited more profoundly. People and shop owners along the roads leading to Sanam Luang handed out free food and drinking water to mourners making their way towards the ceremonial ground. Motorcycle taxis let the mourners hop on and took them to the areas nearest to Sanam Luang free of charge.

Strangers were willing to help one another with youngsters lifting the elderly up on their feet and shops allowing mourners free use of their toilets. These were the sights that left one with a lasting impression.

On Oct 26, the mercury surged with the passing hours. People were sitting patiently under the scorching sun to catch a glimpse of the processions that accompanied the cremation ceremony. Onlookers were watching intently at the royal crematorium and were witnessing royal rites unfold before their eyes.

I remember, as the procession transporting the royal urn to the ceremonial ground approached, mourners couldn't fight back their tears as the sobbing reverberated.

As day turned to night, the long hours of the ceremony did not turn people away. The night wore on and the first trace of smoke slowly rose from the royal crematorium, signalling the moment of indescribable poignancy had finally arrived. Mourners let out their tears but quite subtly this time.

It felt as though the people had had time to prepare their emotions knowing the late King ascended back to heaven.

After the last plume of smoke dissipated and the sobbing died down, an odd silence and tranquility descended on the vast ceremonial plaza.

The mourners started to gather their belongings and slowly made their way out. As I too headed for the exit, I remember hearing a lady murmur: "He is gone now."


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