THAILAND TO HOLD ROYAL BARGE PROCESSION ON 09 NOV: World travellers seeking to add another masterpiece event to their list of lifetime experiences should pencil 08 November 2012 into their calendars and be in Bangkok to watch the majestic Royal Barge Procession along the Chao Phraya river, The River of Kings.
One of the grandest spectacles in Thailand and indeed, the world, the Royal Barge Procession is an ancient tradition that was revived by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1959. This breathtaking water-borne procession is reserved for nationally auspicious occasions and has been held only 16 times during His Majesty’s reign.The main procession will be held between 15.00hrs and 16.00hrs on the 09 November but full dress rehearsals by the Royal Thai Navy will also be held on 02 November and 06 November at 15.00hrs. Tickets are available via the TAT for those wishing to watch the procession in comfort from the Royal Thai Navy pavilion. Alternately, the procession can be viewed from various public spots along the river.
King Bhumibol, the ninth monarch of the Chakri dynasty, founded in 1782, is the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, and has since 1989 been the world’s longest reigning incumbent monarch.
Photos: Slideshow <> Thumbnails <> youtube videos
The Procession, which this year will commemorate the auspicious occasion of HM the King’s 85th birthday on 05 December 2012, involves barges carrying the deeply revered Buddha image (Phra Buddha Sihing) and members of the royal family to present offerings of saffron kathin robes, food and other necessities to the monks at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn).
Truly a sight to behold, the procession consists of a flotilla of 52 traditional-style barges arranged in five columns, based on a battle formation from ancient times. This is made up of four major royal barges — Suphannahongse, Narai Song Suban H.M. King Rama IX, Anantanagaraj and Anekchatbhuchongse, ten barges with animal figureheads and 38 smaller vessels. The five-column flotilla stretches 1,280m. in length and 110m across. A total of 2,200 sailors from various units within the Royal Thai Navy will serve as oarsmen.
The procession takes approximately 55 minutes to make the 4.5 km journey down the Chao Phraya River to Wat Arun, covering the section from Thonburi Bridge to Phra Phutta Yodfa Bridge. The official ceremony is expected to end at approximately 17.30hrs.
The royal barges of Thailand are the last of their kind in the world. The last time that a royal barge procession was organized was on 12 June 2006 for the diamond jubilee celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of HM King Bhumibol’s accession to the throne.
This year, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will preside over the Royal Barge Procession and Royal Kathin ceremony at Wat Arun on behalf of His Majesty the King.
Date of Dress Rehearsals: November 2 and 6, 2012.
Date of the Royal Kathin Ceremony and Royal Barge Procession: 09 November 2012.
Place: Tassana Pirom Yard, Naval Assembly, Royal Thai Navy, Bangkok.
Information and tickets and program can be found on the website of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Photos of barges below, more in web album, donation (photos) welcome
There are various types of barges and the designs depend on the function of the vessel. The actual royal barges are the vessels for the monarchs. There are four such Royal Barges in the museum:
The Suphannahongsa or golden swan, the personal barge of the King is by far the most majestic. This royal barge, which was carved out of a single teak tree trunk, was completed in 1911.
The majestic Suphannahongsa
The Narai Song Suban H M King Rama IX is the latest addition to the royal fleet. This Royal Barge was launched on 05 April 1996 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Ayulyadej's accession to the throne.
Narai Song Suban HM King Rama IX
The making of a royal barge is best illustrated by the construction of the Narai Song Suban H M King Rama IX in 1994. The Anekchatphuchong was first constructed during the reign of King Rama IV. The current version on display at the museum was launched in 1914.
The fourth royal barge is the Anantanakharat with its seven-headed Naga sprouting from the bow.
These four Royal Barges on display at the Royal Barge Museum are beautifully adorned with the intricate carvings on the hulls which are elaborately painted.The barges are in berths and raised above the water level in the dock with the mythical figureheads on the bow towering above the visitor.The other four barges on display at the museum are escort vessels:
The Ekachai class barge with the horn of a mythical dragon on the bow.
The Krabi class barge with Hanuman the Monkey God astride the bow.
The Krut or Garuda class barge with a garuda in flight on the bow.
Krut or Garuda
The Asura Vayupak class barge with the half bird and half ogre on the bow.
With the exception of the Ekachai class escorts all the other escort barges have a cannon at the bow. The hulls of the escort barges are lacquered in black and gold.
Dating back to the Ayutthaya Period, the Royal Barge Procession used to involve as many as 200 longboats in an elaborate procession undertaken by King Narai the Great to accompany diplomatic delegation sent by King Louis XIV of France. During this period, the royal barges were used in battles, religious occasions, boat races as well as royal ceremonies. Unfortunately, these early barges were burnt to dust after Ayutthaya fell and was ransacked by the Burmese.
After King Rama I ascended the throne and established a new capital in Bangkok, he revived the centuries-old tradition and ordered constructions of new barges. Among the most elaborate and significant is the Suppanahong, with the ‘golden swan’ as the figurehead. This majestic 50-metre long vessel, carved from a single piece of teak, is considered the personal barge of the King.
The arrival of motorised boats after King Rama IV’s reign, and the absence of war, has limited the role of the royal barges to purely ceremonial purposes, particularly the Royal Kathin procession at the end of every Buddhist Lent. World War II and a period of political turmoil during King Rama VII’s reign had disrupted the royal barges’ service, until King Rama IX (King Bhumibhol) initiated the restoration of war-damaged vessels and resumed the annual Royal Krathin procession.
The the types of royal barges for details on the barges and crew.
There are two other locations where the barges are kept, the Royal Thai Navy Royal Barge dock near the Arun Amarin Bridge and the Royal Motorboat Dock at the Vasukri Pier.The majestic splendor of the Royal Barges can only be fully appreciated when viewed in the Royal Barge Procession during which up to 50 barges are assembled in a regal flotilla to sail down the Chao Phraya River.
One such procession was the Royal Barge Procession at the APEC closing ceremony in 2003. The grandest procession was Royal Barge Procession 2006 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the reign of His majesty the King.
For the latest Royal Barge Procession on 5 November 2007, please see the Royal Barge Procession 2007 to celebrate the 80th birthday of HM King Bhumipol Adulyadej. The Royal Barge Museum by the Bangkok Noi is a legacy of Kings for generations to come.
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