BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s new king led a royal merit-making ceremony for his late father’s relics on Saturday, the fourth day of an elaborate five-day funeral that caps a year of mourning.
Buddhist monks from Thailand and abroad chanted prayers as King Maha Vajiralongkorn lit candles during the ceremony at the throne hall at Bangkok’s Grand Palace.
On Thursday, a ceremonial urn representing King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s remains was transferred from the throne hall to an ornate crematorium in somber processions involving thousands of troops, a golden palanquin, a gilded chariot and a royal gun carriage.
Just before midnight Thursday, smoke rose from the crematorium, which was built across from the palace in the year since Bhumibol died at age 88, signaling his cremation had taken place following a day of spectacular funeral processions broadcast worldwide.
On Sunday, the final day of the funeral, Bhumibol’s cremated remains are set to be enshrined in spiritually significant locations.
Bhumibol’s death on Oct. 13, 2016, after a reign of seven decades, sparked a national outpouring of grief for a monarch who was regarded by many Thais as a father figure. Yet it also ushered in a sense of uncertainty for Thais who had grown used to Bhumibol serving as a unifying presence in a country regularly beset by political upheaval. •