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Thailand bids farewell to late King Bhumibol

Thailand bids farewell to late King Bhumibol

2017-10-26, Image: Reuters

The day most Thais have been dreading has arrived with the capital adorned in mourning black, as a final farewell is said to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The funeral ceremony lasts for five days and is full of Buddhist and Hindu traditions, interspersed with the sound of jazz and classical music, written by the late monarch.

On Thursday, tens of thousands of people were on the streets directly outside or near a funeral site that artisans have crafted over the past 10 months, transforming an area known as Sanam Luang from a public green space into an elaborate collection of buildings and symbols of King Bhumibol's reign.

The centrepiece is a purpose-built crematorium that towers some 50 metres into the air.

In that time, it became the focal point for grieving Thais wanting to pay their respects. The Palace says that since he died in October last year, around 12 million people took the opportunity to enter the hall where his body lay to pray in front of the royal urn.The funeral is taking place just outside the gates of the Grand Palace, where the King's body has rested for the past 12 months.

The palace was expecting around 250,000 people to fill the streets around Sanam Luang, but the number of people lucky enough to be alongside the procession was strictly controlled and those entering the area were subject to security checks.

Everyone was clad in black, and with the sun beating down upon them, many succumbed to the heat, having to be assisted by the hundreds of medical staff dotted around the area.

For those who can't get close to the procession and funeral site, big screens were been set up alongside replica crematoriums and large portraits of the King where mourners can lay flowers.

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