Sunday, January 17, 2010

Thailand's Father's Day, 5 December

There are 2 special days in Thailand I would like to talk about, Loi Kratong and Father's Day. Loi Kratong is a day where the Thais go to the rivers in groups, place their wishes into a biodegradable boat and release them onto the water. It's in November every year when the moon is full. This time, I will focus on Father's day instead.

While all of us struggle to remember that Father's day is on the 3rd Sunday of June every year (pardon me if I am wrong on this), the Thais remember their Father's day on the 5th of December, and it's actually the birthday of their beloved King Rama IX. He's over 80 now, and has worked tirelessly throughout his entire life to make the pples' lives better, ruling over 3 generations in the process.

For someone who has been brought up in a democratic society, I have no clue to how much a King can actually be loved. How can one single person have a place in the hearts of every single being in a country? Yes this King is a great 1, and he deserves the love of the people, but the extent to which he is celebrated is unimagineable, at least to me.
Because of these 2 kind souls below, Rit and Om (Rit is currently my warehouse supervisor), I have the honour to have first-hand experience on how a typical Thai spends the evenings of every 5 December. First you go to some park and around 730pm, you light a yellow candle and wait for further instructions.

Someone would announce the time for everyone to sing, and everyone would start singing a song, with no music, nothing, and it's not the national anthem. The conglomerate of tens of thousands of people would just sing in unison. It's just really kinda incredible to be amongst something like this, though I don't understand the lyrics at all. It just feels like love is in the air, a different kind of love, a love given from the people, to their King.
The picture below is my futile attempt to tell you how many people are involved, and this is only one of the countless parks in Thailand. The key is to look across the lake, look at the little shimmering candles across the water. There were even MORE PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE!

After the song is done, everyone raises their candles into the night sky and shouts something in unison. I believe it would sound something like that in English, "Long live the King!"

Following that would be an extravagant array of fireworks. This time, i heard, the display was different, because while usually there will be only 1 display, there were FOUR separate displays of fireworks. After the first 2, the horde started to disperse, only for the 3rd display to begin, and the Park was half empty when the 4th display took place. I was lucky enough to view all 4 as I was lazy to squeeze my way out with the crowd initially.
Spending such an evening in Thailand was fantastic, and somewhat amazing, as to me it's still unbelievable that a country can do so much for nothing more than 1 individual. Does anyone know your Prime Minister's birthday, or do you care at all? Probably, we can't even remember our Dad's birthday, haha!
In this time of economic and political turmoil, the health of King Rama IX is vital to keep this country from falling into a possible state of crisis, so, I will say, Long Live the King!


  1. Great post and it's inspiring to see such respect and devotion for one individual.
    I live here in BKK (not far from where you took these photos, Suang Luang) and to say the King is adored is somewhat of an understatement, compared to back home in the UK it staggers belief!

  2. Thanks for your comment anonymous, and we do realise that as we are talking about this, we are on the eve of another Father's Day. Do join me in Suan Luang and feel the love in the air again tomorrow.


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