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05 May is Coronation Day in Thailand, marking the anniversary of the coronation of the country’s current King Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as King Rama IX. The day is celebrated as a public holiday in Thailand, and known locally as Wan Chatramongkol.
In 2016 Coronation Day falls on a Thursday, and many employees will enjoy an additional day off on the Friday. Combined with the previous Monday’s public holiday for National Labour Day, this makes for a holiday week and will see plenty of Thais leave the capital either for a trip away or to visit family elsewhere in the country.
Thailand’s king is the world’s longest reigning surviving monarch, having been on the throne for 69 years. He succeeded his brother as king on his death on 06 June 1946. However, as the king was still studying in Switzerland at the time, his formal coronation ceremony was delayed until 05 May 1950, and this is the ceremony that is celebrated by today’s Coronation Ceremony – meaning that 2016 marks its 66th anniversary.
The tradition of holding a Coronation Day was introduced under the reign of King Mongkut, the forth monarch in the current Chakri dynasty. King Mongkut invited monks for a meal at the Grand Palace’s Dusit Maha Prasart Throne Hall. Nowadays, Coronation Day celebrations actually stretch across three days. On the first day, the king performs a religious merit-making ceremony to pay tribute to his predecessors in the presence of Buddhist monks, and honours are awarded to distinguished parts of the military.
The following day, a religious proclamation is read and is followed by evening chanting led by monks. On the final day, food is offered to monks, the armed forces lead a 21-gun salute to honour the king, and a Buddhist ceremony takes place which involves walking three times around the courtyard of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Emerald Buddha’s robe is also changed in a symbolic ritual.
On Coronation Day, royal decorations are presented to those who have made valuable contributions to Thailand. You can also expect to hear the royal anthem played widely; ordinarily, it is played at the beginning of performances at the cinema and theatre. It is common for a number of rooms at the Grand Palace, not normally open to the public, to be made available for viewing.
Photos by Benoit Mortgat; Sébastien Bertrand; Natasia Causse; edwin.11; Jorge Láscar.