Royal celebration of Thai culture

Last updated 00:00 10/11/2012
Thailand's Royal Barge Procession
Reuters
AN ANCIENT CEREMONY: Thai oarsmen row a royal barge during the Royal Barge Procession on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.

Relevant offers

Asia

The High-Heeled Shoe church formally opens in Taiwan village Here's why the Land Rover rip off might succeed Researchers discover what is likely the world's deepest underwater sinkhole in the South China Sea Northeast India rain, floods kill seven, force 1.2 million from homes Bangladesh police kill nine militants plotting major attack Tokyo knifeman stabs dozens, killing at least 19 Tiger mauls woman to death in Chinese safari park Bangladesh police arrest four female militants in hunt for cafe attackers 'They electrocuted me' say Indonesia's death-row prisoners nearing execution China's flooding leaves 170 dead

Golden barges shaped like swans and mythical sea creatures glided down the Chao Phraya river that winds through the Thai capital of Bangkok in a 700-year-old ceremony, with more than 2000 rowers taking part.

The Royal Barge Procession, held for the first time in five years and presided over by Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, emphasizes the importance of water to the people of Thailand.

Water has historically been a lifeline for Thais and expressions such as "nam jai", which translates as "water of the heart" or "kindness," highlight this.

"Tears roll down from my eyes when I watch the procession because it really is something extraordinary to behold," said Kanjana Kamsongsee, 59, a hospital administrator who watched.

The ancient procession, featuring 52 exquisitely crafted golden barges draped with strings of jasmine, was revived by Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1960 after a lapse of several decades and takes place at the end of Buddhist Lent, with robes presented to Buddhist monks as part of the event.

It was last held in 2007 to celebrate the king's 80th birthday, with the crown prince presiding as he also did on Friday. King Bhumibol has been in hospital recovering from an illness since September 2009.

Last year, Thailand was hit by its worst floods in half a century, with water submerging entire towns and villages, forcing the event's cancellation.

As the barges made their one hour journey down the river, 2,200 oarsmen dressed in ornate costumes - Thai navy sailors in reality - rowed in synchronized movements to the sound of chanting, passing iconic landmarks such as Wat Arun, the porcelain-encrusted Temple of Dawn.

"Rain or shine, I come every time the procession is held because my belief is that taking part in the end of Buddhist Lent is of high religious merit," said Supanee Chankhun, 59. "I am proud to be Thai today."

Ad Feedback

- Reuters

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content