The Kingdom of Thailand to Stage Royal Barge Procession on October 22, 2011

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The Royal Kathin Barge procession is to present monastic robes.

One of the grandest spectacles in the Kingdom of Thailand, the Royal Barge Procession on the Chao Phraya – the ‘River of Kings’ – 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 sixteen times during His Majesty’s reign.

HM King Bhumibol is the ninth ruler of the Royal House of Chakri, a dynasty founded in 1782. He is the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, and has since 1989 been the world’s longest reigning incumbent monarch.

To commemorate the auspicious occasion of HM King Bhumibol’s 84th birthday on December 5, 2011, the Royal Thai Navy will be organizing a Royal Kathin Barge Procession on 22 October 2011 to mark the visit of members of the royal family to a royal temple to present offerings of saffron kathin robes, food and other necessities, to the monks.
Officially known as the Praratcha Phithi Phra Yuha Yatra Cholamak (Royal Waterway Procession), the water-borne procession involves barges carrying the deeply revered Buddha image (Phra Buddha Sihing) and members of the royal family to present robes to the monks at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) to mark Awk Phansa, the end of the three-month Buddhist rains’ retreat in October. During the rainy season, Buddhist monks traditionally return to their temples for what is often called Buddhist lent.

The water-borne mmroyal kathin procession on October 22 will consist 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 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.

The Royal Barges in the Rattanakosin Period: A Precious Heritage
Throughout his long reign, HM King Bhumibol has devoted special attention to the preservation of the arts and culture of Thailand. On viewing the ruins of Ayutthaya, His Majesty once remarked: "Ancient ruins always do honour to a nation. Even an old brick from an ancient ruin is worthy of our preservation, for if we do not have Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Bangkok, then Thailand itself does not mean anything."

The barges were badly damaged by allied bombing during World War II. Upon his return to Thailand in December 1951, HM King Bhumibol went to inspect the damage and condition of the barges in their dry dock on Bangkok Noi canal on the west bank of the Chao Phraya. The king was gravely concerned about the extensive deterioration of these historic vessels and commissioned their renovation. The ancient tradition of royal barge processions for nationally auspicious occasions was later revived.

*Source:
Royal Barges published by the Foreign News Division, Government Public Relations Department, Office of the Prime Minister

IMPORTANT
Event dates and program details may be subject to change.
Many of the festivals and events listed on Thailand's official calendar of annual events are traditional Buddhist or folk festivals, the date of which is either determined by the Buddhist lunar calendar and waxing and waning moon. These are not staged events. The festivals reflect the rhythm of life in rural Thai villages and local traditions as observed in times past.To ensure you have the most updated information, please reconfirm details prior to travel or visit Tourism Authority of Thailand website for more information.

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