Thai Funeral @ Wat Sraket, Bangkok
It was the first time in my life to visit Bangkok for just a 1 night's stay. It was also the first time my whole family were together in Bangkok to attend the funeral of my mother's only brother. He was a doctor who graduated from the prestigious medical school of Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok before moving his practices to Philadelphia and San Francisco before retiring his last years in Thailand. He passed away in 2011 and had pledged to donate his body to the same medical school at Siriraj Hospital for them to do research and studies.
His body was released to his family recently and he was accorded the sponsored Royal Funeral at the Wat Sraket (Temple) in Bangkok. Usually only the Royalties and High Ranking families would be able to conduct funeral rites at Wat Sraket. I am not bragging here but just wish to share some few photos of this high profile funeral for your own knowledge only.
Wat Sraket is a well known temple in the heart of Bangkok and attracts many tourists & worshipers who would climb their way up the monument. The above building is where the funeral and cremation ceremonies are conducted for the privileged ones.
Many distinguished guests were invited for the last day where long lines of flashy cars carried the VVIPs, Movie Stars and Hi-Societies including the former PM Anand Panyarachun. He has white grey hair and can be seen seated in the above photo. My brother and father sat behind while I sat with my wife and cousins farther back.
It is a funeral customary in Thailand where the deceased's family would specially print invitation cards to invite relatives and close friends to attend the funerals. All the attendees must wear full black where the men has to wear black ties and ladies in long black attires. The high society would often visit saloons to get their hair done with make ups to look good as their personal respects for the send off ceremony.
They have beautiful wreaths and funeral offerings for the altar and monks. My niece who is the well known actress and face for SK-II received the flowers for her grandfather's demise.
At the main hall, they placed my uncle's casket facing the seated attendees and mourners. It was beautifully decorated with fresh white roses and white flowers which made the air very sweet and fragrant smelling. It was the first time I actually saw white roses with my own eyes.
This is a close up view of the casket which was placed in front of the door leading to the cremation pyre behind.
A relative told me that the highest ranking monks in Bangkok conducted the prayers everyday. I had earlier posted these similar photos in my Facebook and was surprised to see several monks responded with comments and "Like". Time has changed and Facebook has become a necessity for communication tools.
Life is just a journey for everyone of us. Time flies very fast. We should lead a meaningful life and live our lives to the fullest. My late uncle was indeed a blessed man with his kindness and selfless deeds even after death by donating his whole body. I could not even bring myself to donate my organs or cornea when I die. I guess I am a real coward! Tell me, have you pledged your organs after death? My wife bravely did long ago.
I am proud to say that my nieces and nephews in Bangkok are surprisingly all very good looking people. Here my famous niece knelt to give offerings and make merits for her late grandfather. Her cousin who is also my nephew in white shirt with titles to his name and is well known in the celebrity gossip magazines.
At 3:00pm sharp the Royal Guards from the Grand Palace arrived with the lighted candle which was being lit by HM The King. The monks conducted the final rites and transferred the King's candle fire to the casket to start the cremation.
My old and frail mother was the first to place her joss stick and sandal wood flowers,
followed by the former PM, the Royalties, relatives and even movie stars.
This is how the joss stick looks after being beautifully wrapped with candles and sandal wood flowers.
Here my other pretty niece carried the tray of joss sticks and offered to all the mourners.
This is how an honoured funeral is like in Thailand.