Chakri Day is an important public holiday in the Thai calendar, falling on April 6th each year. It celebrates Thailand’s Chakri dynasty, from which the current royal family hails. But do you know the full background to Chakri Day and how it is celebrated in Bangkok?
The Chakri dynasty was founded in 1782, when King Rama I came to the throne, following the death of King Taksin. The dynasty takes its name from Rama I, whose full name was King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke but who was bestowed the prestigious title of Chaophraya Chakri, reflecting his strength in battle. It’s also easy to spot the influence of the name for Bangkok’s Chaophraya river. Rama I moved the capital of Thailand, at the time known as Siam, across the river from Thonburi to Bangkok, where it stands today.
Since then there have been nine Thai kings in the Chakri dynasty, and the current head of state in Thailand is King Bhumibol Adulyadej, known as King Rama IX. He came to the throne on 09 June 1946, and is therefore the world’s longest currently serving head of state and Thailand’s longest reigning monarch, having currently held his role for over 68 years. The King’s birthday is celebrated as Father’s Day each year on 05 December.
Other monarchs in Thailand’s Chakri dynasty have included King Chulalongkorn, or Rama V, who is credited with much of Thailand’s modernisation and whose death is marked each October on Chulalongkorn Day.
On Chakri Day each year in Bangkok, the current Thai royal family presides over a ceremony which honours the country’s previous monarchs. Thais often also place flowers on statues of King Rama I around the country. At the Grand Palace, this is also the one day of the year that the interior of the Phrasat Phra Debidorn building, also known as the Pantheon, is open to the building; it contains life-sized statues of the first eight kings of the Chakri dynasty. It is here that the current king pays respects to his predecessors, before proceeding to lay a wreath at the statue of King Rama I at Bangkok’s Memorial Bridge, close to the flower market and Wat Prayoon temple, both visited by our nighttime tuk-tuk tour.
Will you be in Bangkok for Chakri Day? Let us know in the comments!
Grand Palace photo by Jorge Láscar; King Chulalongkorn statue photo by Keng Susumpow; Thai bank notes photo by Natasia Causse; Memorial Bridge photo by tsin_travel.