BANGKOK (AP) — A symbolic cremation of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej is being witnessed by royalty and high-ranking officials from 42 countries.
Orange-robed monks chanted Buddhist prayers to bless Bhumibol’s spirit as the official guests waited in line to walk into a spectacular golden crematorium to make offerings of flowers made from sandalwood.
Cannons and guns fired and the uplifting notes of a royal anthem washed over the plaza where ceremonies are being held.
Tens of thousands of ordinary Thais have congregated nearby after watching solemn funeral processions that carried an urn — representing Bhumibol’s remains — from Bangkok’s Grand Palace to the crematorium.
Earlier, the golden urn meant to symbolize late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s remains was hoisted into the specially built shrine.
Sitting under a nine-tiered white umbrella and accompanied by a palace official, the urn was lifted into main chamber of the golden-spired crematorium as monks chanted, traditional instruments wailed and artillery fired in the distance.
Thick curtains were then drawn across the crematorium so the monarch’s remains could be prepared for burning with rare sandalwood. His remains were placed in a coffin separately.
An actual cremation takes place later in the evening.