Death in a Foreign Land

When travelling to Thailand recently, we arrived in Phuket to quiet streets and shut-down store fronts. Deep bars and open-air clubs were left empty and silent with not a single patron to be seen. Souvenir stands and clothing shops were closed up with signs announcing their closure, only a few giving a future date of resumption. The usual liveliness of Patong Beach carried a discomfort that could only be explained by the death of the king not two days prior. Restaurants would still serve us food, but alcoholic beverages were usually denied with very few shops agreeing to the sale. Convenience shops would only agree to selling if they left the premises under extreme discretion. Music and televisions were not being used at all.

10 days later in Krabi, we are still hearing projected ceremonial chanting from the nearby mosque. There are large poster-type portraits of the king along roadsides and in front of businesses commemorating his life and his reign. Many shops even have commemorative calendars and portraits on the counters and doors. It is my impression from the locals that he was an adored leader, and they have been quite saddened with his passing. King Bhumibol had been reigning over Thailand for over 70 years, guiding the country through modern times with grace.

A bank with mourning sashes, one of many displaying their respects.

The mosque has been broadcasting chanting prayers several times a day, with many people listening in and following on the radio. This chanting is a Buddhist prayer, done for 100 days after death to gain merit for the departed spirit. Civil workers have been asked to wear black for a year in respect and mourning, while flags will be flown half mast for 30 days with many forms of entertainment halting for this time as well.

Mosque of Ao Nang, across the street from where we are staying.

Prayers for the Dead-Death Ritual-100 Day Ceremony

See the article at CNN for more information :


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