This is kind of a sad post and I don’t have photos of it.
On October 1, 2012 my Thai-American friend’s (the one who helped me get to Thailand to study here and helped me every step of the way ever since landing at the airport on August 7) father passed away. I was given the special privilege to witness a Royal Cremation.
In Thai customs the first seven days after the death is for praying rituals. Every night at 7pm for 7 nights for 1 hour was a prayer session. It was very similar to a wake except the family doesn’t see the body or shake hands with the family. We sit in silence and listen to the prayers the 5 monks recite to the body. In Tradition on the 50th day the same process would happen. Each time the monks pray the family offer food in order to give food to the dead relative. There are special rituals and beliefs that need to be performed before the body is cremated. Finally on the 100th day is the burning and cremation of the body. I was in attendance only for the 4th day and the 100th day.
I was told by my friend that the funeral was important but I didn’t understand why. I figured he was just high status in his profession as a conservationist in the government. At the funeral I found out he is a descendent of the Na Ayutthaya family (the Royal family of the Ayutthaya period). This makes him and his family part of the Royal family – not exactly the current royal family but long long descendents. I was told how the family had to write to H.M. the King to have his blessings and to get him to allow the use of the Royal coffin and to light the fire used to cremate the body.
The body was placed inside this extremly important relic from the Grand Palace. Soon police showed up with a candle in a glass case and a little offering to the body. After they showed up the ceremony comenced. There was words from family members and fellow mourners. Each went to the body paid their respects and left small sandlewood flowers (used to carry the well wishes for the bodies journey through the next life.)Each mourner leaves one flower for the body. once this is done there is a book of the person that talks about his life. We got a gift from the family too, we received a small buddha image – or maybe its a little monk image. I can’t really tell.
I did find an excellent blog that explains the whole process in depth and has pictures that I don’t have. http://bkkguava.blogspot.com/2009/05/thai-funeral-cremation-ceremony.html It was an interesting experience (yet very sad). I went to pay my respect because my friends family has been so loving and gracious to me. I am forever grateful. I also stayed in his house upon my arrival. I only wish I could have known him better myself.
(May he rest in peace blessing his family and reunited with is beautiful wife as they await reincarnation in the next life. I pay my respects to him and his family for their caring and warm welcome to Thailand. Thank you!)