With solemn faces and outright tears, Thais said farewell to their king and father figure with elaborate funeral ceremonies that cap a year of mourning and are steeped in centuries of tradition. Smoke rose just before midnight Thursday from the spectacularly ornate crematorium built in the year since King Bhumibol Adulyadej died; the Guardian reports it stands 164 feet, includes statues of the king's two most beloved dogs, and symbolizes the sacred Mount Meru, where Thai royals are thought to live after death alongside Buddhist and Hindu gods. The five-day funeral began Wednesday, with a day-long procession of chariots and palanquins taking place the next day. The king's body was wheeled in the victory chariot, which was pulled by at least 200 men.
CNN reports the cremation was a private ceremony attended by family Thursday night, preceded by a symbolic cremation witnessed by royalty and high-ranking officials from 42 countries. On Friday morning, his son, current King Maha Vajiralongkorn, participated in a religious ceremony involving his father's remains. The AP reports Thai television broadcast pictures of Vajiralongkorn bathing Bhumibol's relics—charred bones—and placing them in golden reliquary urns. Those ashes and relics will be transferred to the Grand Palace and the Temple of The Emerald Buddha for further Buddhist rites, and on the final day of the funeral, they are set to be enshrined in spiritually significant locations.
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