In the past, Thailand did not have any distinct royal ceremonies to celebrate the monarch’s birthday anniversary, as is practised nowadays because Thai people held the belief that they must not let anybody know the date and time of their birth, as such revelation might pose a threat or bring bad luck to them. It was, hence, of vital importance especially to the reigning monarch as the pre-eminent royal head of the country, not to allow anybody to get to know the exact time when he was born. By tradition, the corresponding coordinates were and still are recorded in a person’s individual chart of astrological constellation at birth (duang chata rasi) that is kept confidential, even treated as a secret.
More recently in history, during the Third Reign of the Royal House of Chakri, King Rama III (1824-1851) had annually one Buddha image cast to commemorate each year of his reign. Yet that ceremonial marking of the progression of the Third Reign did not reveal the year, month, date and hour of the ruler’s birth.
The royal ceremony on the King’s birthday anniversary was initiated in the reign of King Rama IV(1851-1868), earlier ordained into the monkhood, and upheld upon his accession to the throne as the fourth ruler of the Royal House of Chakri. Two events marked the celebration of the King’s birthday anniversary. They are the ceremony to pay respect to the Buddha image and the merit-making at both the Royal Palace and at the temple known as Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram.
During the present reign, yearly a series of ceremonies commemorates this occasion, from 3-6 December.
On the first day, 3 December, H.M. the King proceeds to review the trooping the colours and the taking of the oath, receiving pledges of loyalty and honesty by the royal guards. On 4 December, at Sala Dusitalai in the Dusit Royal Palace, the King grants an audience to groups of people representing a cross-section of the entire society, who come to offer their birthday wishes. On 5 December, the King’s birthday anniversary, the most important royal ceremonies evolve. In the morning, the King proceeds to the Amarin Winichai Throne Hall in the Grand Palace to receive in audience the members of the Royal Family and subjects as well as government officials, while soldiers fire salutes in his honour. In the afternoon, the King graciously bestows titles to some high-ranking Buddhist monks before listening to the citing of Buddhist sermons. In addition, the King grants an audience to Chinese and Annamite monks at Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram, to receive their blessings and to present them with offerings, Thereafter, the King has money handed to all his old royal attendants. On this occasion, a greeting book is provided at the Grand Palace for well-wishers to convey their felicitation for the King.
Another Buddhist ceremony is held on 6 December at the Amarin Winichai Throne Hall, where the King offers alms to monks and listens to their citing of sermons. Then, he graciously advises his royal family members to release various kinds of aquatic animals into the Chao Phraya River at the Ratchaworadit Royal Pier.
Besides royal ceremonies as mentioned, several activities in support of public charities are held to celebrate this important event, both through private initiative and by government agencies.
The Prime Minister, Royal Thai Government, hosts a festive reception in celebration of the His Majesty the King’s Birthday Anniversary, known as Samosorn Sannibat, freely translated as the ‘propitious congregation’, at Government House, on 7 December. This event, Samosorn Sannibat, is graced by the presence of members of the Royal Family and attended by invited guests, including eminent personages of the Kingdom and foreign dignitaries.
In the year 1960, H. M. the King’s birthday anniversary was decreed an important day for the Thai nation by Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, the then prime minister of Thailand. Up to now, it is a Thai national day, a most important event in the life of the Thai People. For a great selection of places to stay with discount prices visit Bangkok Hotels for more information.
Taken from: Thailand: Traits and Treasures. The National Identity Board, Royal Thai Government 2005.
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