The Father of the Nation, whose achievements throughout his 70-year reign saw him bestowed the titles “King Bhumibol The Great” and “King of Kings”, has long held a special place in the hearts of Thais and foreigners alike, especially in Phuket, where their love and devotion has held apparent.
As with elsewhere throughout the country, many banks, shops and businesses will close today, a national public holiday, so that the people can pay their respects. Foreigners are invited to join the memorial services, though have been urged to respect the deeply sensitive nature of this period of mourning.
The Public Relations Department Phuket office is inviting one and all to join a government-organised event where ceremonies and performances in memoriam of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej will be held at Saphan Hin in Phuket Town tonight and tomorrow night (Oct 13-14).
“Everyone is allowed to join the various events and musical and theatrical performances that will take place at Saphan Hin on Friday (Oct 13) and Saturday (Oct 14) in the evening,” said event organiser Lertpong Tansowat.
“The events will honour and remember our late King Bhumibol Adulyadej,” he said.
“There will certainly be many other events happening around the island organised by the private sector, however, this event is the only one organised by the Phuket PR office,” he added.
Merit-making today began at 7am with an alms-giving ceremony during which food was given to monks.
“People can also join a memorial merit-making mass prayer led by 10 monks, starting at 4:30pm,” explained Butsaya Jaipiem, Chief of the Public Relations Department Phuket office.
“After the mass prayer, the monks will lay down a funeral robe and light candles in front of an image of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Then people may approach to pay their respects in front of the image.
“The monks will then give a sermon before closing the ceremony with prayer,” Ms Butsaya said.
“During the ceremonies, officials will be dressed in their ceremonial white uniforms with black armbands along with students and other members of the public. Locals are asked to wear sombre and respectful clothing,” Ms Butsaya added.
Other less formal activities will begin at 3pm with an exhibition on Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presented by the Peranakan Association of Phuket, Mr Lertpong explained.
“At 5pm, there will be a theatrical performance entitled ‘I was born in the reign of King Rama IX’ by a group from Phuket Rajabhat University named ‘I was born to be number one’.
“Then, at 6:35pm, there will be a light-and-sound show titled ‘King, you are inscribed in the heart of Thailand forever’.”
Mr Lertpong said that on Saturday (Oct 14), some of the same performances will take place in the evening, however, with additions.
“At 5pm the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command’s Orchestra will play Royal Music. At 5:35pm, the ‘I was born in the reign of King Rama IX’ theatrical performance will be re-shown.
“Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong will arrive at 6:45pm, which will be followed by the Mayor of Phuket Town Somjai Suwansupana giving a welcome speech. They will open the event together,” he said.
Meanwhile, bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues in Patong, especially those along Bangla Rd, have been ordered to tone down their operations to respect the passing of the late King.
Entertainment venues have not been specifically ordered to close and no ban on the sale of alcohol has been issued, confirmed Weerawit Krueasombut, President of the Patong Entertainment Business Association (PEBA).
However, he added, “Everyone will understand as we know how the nation will feel on Friday. However, whether or not each venue will stay open or close remains the choice of the operator.”