Getting ready for a royal farewell

Standing tall and regal near Bangkok's Grand Palace, this elaborate cremation site will be where Thais will bid their final farewell to their beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Oct 26.

The kingdom has been preparing for this event since the King died on Oct 13 last year.

At the one-year anniversary of his death yesterday, thousands of citizens, dressed in black, made their way to temples, state agencies and the courtyard of the Bangkok hospital where King Bhumibol had spent his last years to give alms to Buddhist monks as part of a merit-making ritual for the monarch.

Most offices remained shut on the public holiday. And, at 3.52pm, the exact time when the King had died,  the nation observed 89 seconds of silence, to mark the ruler's age had he lived till his birthday on Dec 5 last year.

The five-day funeral ceremony, which begins on Oct 25, is expected to draw thousands.

The complex where the function will be held has been lovingly crafted over 10 months to resemble Mount Meru - the allegorical centre of the universe according to Buddhist, Hindu and Jain traditions - where Thais believe King Bhumibol's spirit will return.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'Getting ready for a royal farewell'. Print Edition | Subscribe