With Songkran Festival now over, the Kingdom of Thailand now turns its attention towards the coronation of HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Although already ruling over the nation, his Royal Majesty’s formal ascension to the throne will take place over the days of May 4 through May 6. This will be the first coronation ceremony that any Thai born after May 1950 will have ever witnessed. This was the date of the last coronation, that of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Thailand has been in a long period of mourning since Adulyadej’s passing in 2016. Here’s what you can expect both leading up to the coronation and during it.
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In other monarchies, the crowning is the most important element of a coronation. However, in Thailand sacred water rituals are the key parts to the event. Water possesses properties of transformation, and thus signifies the ascension of human to King. Water has already been collected from 107 important sites in all 76 Thai provinces. Each province will bless water at their main temple. Afterwards they send the sacred water to Bangkok to use during the King’s anointment. These arrivals have already started in the capital city.
In addition to the water for anointment, water is also collected from the 5 main rivers of Bang Pakong, Pasak, Chao Phraya, Ratchaburi, and the Phetchaburi. This will be the water used for the purification bath at the coronation. The name for this bath in Thai is Song Phra Muratha Bhisek. The Thai name for the anointment is Abhisek. Together they make up the most sacred rituals of the coronation. All of the water will first come to Wat Suthat for combining and another blessing. Next, the water is moved to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The purification bath takes place at the Grand Palace on May 4. This will begin the first day of the coronation ceremony. Then comes his anointment. His Royal Majesty will take this anointment 8 times, one for each of the cardinal and intercardinal directions. This signifies his rule over the entire Kingdom. King Maha Vajiralongkorn will then sit at the throne of the Royal 9-Tiered Umbrella. It is the most ancient of the royal regalia. The umbrella symbolizes the protection the King will give to the Thai people.
The King will receive the Royal Golden Plaque with his Royal Name and Seal inscribed on it. Following will be the official crowning and an oath of ascension. The King then grants an audience with other Royal Family members and the highest of Thailand’s ranking officials. The first day of the ceremony will commence with a ritual as the King inhabits the Royal Palace.
On day two, May 5, there will be a procession in Bangkok where the people will be able to see the King. The monarch grants an audience on May 6 with the people as well as foreign ambassadors and diplomats. The coronation will be a major event in Thailand as the nation looks towards the future.
April 6 – Collection of waters from 76 provinces
April 8 – Blessing of the waters in each province
April 18 – Water consecration at Wat Suthat
April 19 – Processions of water to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
April 22/23 – Inscription of the Royal Plaque with name, seal, and horoscope
May 2 – King Maha Vajiralongkorn will pay homage to King Rama I and V at their respective monuments
May 3 – Procession of the Royal Plaque to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
May 4 – Purification bath, anointment, crowning, oath and audience with Royal Family
May 5 – Procession of the King
May 6 – Grand audience with Thai people and foreign officials
The Culture Ministry has published four e-books for those interested further in the coronation. They have made these books available for free at http://www.m-culture.go.th.