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The Royal Barge Procession
Written by Administrator    Saturday, 26 January 2013 11:51    PDF Print E-mail
The Royal Barge Procession
Bangkok's Chao Phraya River went back on time on 9 November 2012 as it lived up to its name "The River of Kings" when it hosted the majestic Royal Barge Procession. One of the grandest spectacles in Thailand and indeed, the world, the Royal Barge Procession is an ancient tradition that was revived by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1959. This breathtaking water-borne procession is reserved for nationally auspicious occasions and has been held only 16 times during His Majesty's reign. The official name of the event is: The Royal Barge Procession to Present the Royal Kathin Ceremony in a part of The Celebration on the Auspicious Occasion of His Majesty the King's 85th Birthday Anniversary 5th December 2012. The main procession was held on 9 November but there were also two full dress rehearsals by the Royal Thai Navy, held on 2 November and 6 November. King Bhumibol, the ninth monarch of the Chakri dynasty, founded in 1782, is the longestreigning monarch in Thai history, and has since 1989 been the world's longest reigning incumbent monarch. The Procession involves barges carrying the deeply revered Buddha image (Phra Buddha Sihing) and members of the royal family to present offerings of saffron kathin robes, food and other necessities to the monks at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). Truly a sight to behold, the procession consists of a flotilla of 52 traditional-style barges arranged in five columns, based on a battle formation from ancient times. This is made up of four major royal barges — Suphannahongse, Narai Song Suban H.M. King Rama IX, Anantanagaraj and Anekchatbhuchongse, ten barges with animal figureheads and 38 smaller vessels. The five-column flotilla stretches 1,280 metres in length and 110 across. A total of 2,200 sailors from various units within the Royal Thai Navy will serve as oarsmen. The procession takes approximately 55 minutes to make the 4.5 kilometre journey down the Chao Phraya River to Wat Arun, covering the section from Thonburi Bridge to Phra Phutta Yodfa Bridge. The official ceremony is expected to end at approximately 5.30 pm. The royal barges of Thailand are the last of their kind in the world. The last time that a royal barge procession was organized was on 12 June 2006 for the diamond jubilee celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of HM King Bhumibol's accession to the throne. This year, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn presided over the Royal Barge Procession and Royal Kathin ceremony at Wat Arun on behalf of His Majesty the King.

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn presented Kathin robes to monks at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn).