Royal Barge Ceremony







Hey everyone – I was unable to post last week becuase I had the darn flu for 6 days. Quite miserable – but I am working on three more posts that I hope to have up really soon. 

This blog is about one of the most important Buddhist/monarchy related festivals each year. 

In November the Royal Barge Procession – consisting of some 54 laquer/gold leaf/jewel encrusted/ wooden boats that are used only for the Royal Family. I will be posting the photos on Photobucket soon – but just have not had the time to do so yet – you should also check out youtube for videos on this important festival. 

The Festival is called the Krathin Ceremony – it happens once a year – every year, with the exception of last year becuase of the extreme flooding problems in Bangkok. in 2011 His Majesty the King asked parliment to postpone the ceremony because of the flooding, to this year. Unofortunately H.M. the King has become very ill and was unable to do the ceremony. In his place the Crown Prince (Heir to the thrown and H.M. the Kings only son.) had to lead the Royal Procession. 

History alert: The Royal Barge Procession was first observed during the Ayutthaya period (kingdom before the current Bangkok Capitol) The procession is based off the battle ship arrangement when Siam would have a water conflict and needed the barges for fighting. These elements are retained still today – on many of the lead ships and one of the 4 main Royal barges there are cannons. 

At the front of the procession there are 4 boats that have these cannons – along with Garuda images (Garuda is a mythical creature in Buddhism – I believe) 

I watched many videos about the royal barges and the foreigners who video taped the spectacle seemed to always miss the most important aspect of each barge – at least the 4 main barges. Wikipedia explains the stat’s of the boat – but not the importance. Keep in mind only the bow and stern differ on each boat, as well as the pavilions on the 4 main barges. 

In Order of presentation – 

Garuda boats – are the protectors of the fleet. 

Seven Headed Naka (Naga) – Has the seven headed snake on the bow – the importance is that it carries the image of Buddha – since Buddhism is the National Religion. 

The Swan – MOST IMPORTANT – The Swan Boat is the most important – had H.M. the King felt better this is the barge he would have been on – since the Crown Prince is presiding you will see him on this barge in the video on youtube I have linked to. 

Garuda with Protector – This is the barge the Crown prince would normally ride on – but was vacant because of his presiding at the ceremony. 

(no bow finial) This last barge use to carry the Princesses and the Queen- However, during the Reign of King Rama 5 (Chulalongkorn) this boat sank during the procession. This is important because men are not allowed to touch the queen – subsequently the queen of King Rama 5 drowned in the river. Since then it was declared that the queen and princesses were not allowed to be on the barge becuase of the danger it posed. Instead the queen and princesses await the arrival of the barges at the Temple of Dawn. – I think this is the best video – with the chants and you can see the Crown Prince.