There are several events this Friday April 6th, and over the weekend, April 7-8th, 2012. Friday is Chakri Day; there will be elections in Phuket and Chiang Mai and other towns and provinces; and Monday April 9th will be the royal cremation ceremony of HRH Princess Bejaratana Rajasud.
The 6th of April is Chakri Day in Thailand. It is a celebration of the House of Chakri from which the current royal family originates. The first of the Chakri dynasty was Rama I (Chao Phraya Chakri Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke) who became king of Siam on the 6th of April 1782. The current king of Thailand is Rama IX (King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great) who has reigned in Thailand since 1946.
Chakri day commemorates the coronation of Rama I, but it is also to recognize the contributions of all the kings in this dynasty. It is usual for the people of Thailand to celebrate this day by expressing their thanks to the kings of the Chakri family. They often do this by putting flowers on statues of Rama I. The King also performs a special ceremony to pay respects to his ancestor. Government offices, some schools, and banks close, but most other businesses open as usual on this day.
Local Elections and Alcohol Ban
There will be local elections in many provinces in Thailand on the 7th April 2012 – including tourist areas such as Phuket and Chiang Mai. This means that there will be an alcohol ban over the weekend. In some places this will start from 6pm on Friday the 6th. Bars are also likely to be closed from the 8th until the 10th of April because of the Royal cremation on the 9th. This means that there will be no alcohol sold for a full 4 days in most places.
Royal Cremation Ceremony
The Royal Cremation for HRH Princess Bejaratana Rajasud will take place on the 9th of April 2012. The ceremony will take place in the grounds of Sanam Luang. Those who wish to give their respects will be able to offer scented flowers at a number of locations around Bangkok.
HRH Princess Bejaratana Rajasud was the first cousin of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and she was the only child of Rama VI (King Vajiravudh). She proved to be a devoted princess who had a particular interest in public health, education, and Buddhism. She was particularly gifted at mathematics. She died on the 27th July 2011 aged 85 years of age.
Songkran is Coming
Songkran the Water Festival (sometimes called the Thai New Year) is rapidly approaching, and those who are lucky enough to be in Thailand can look forward to plenty of fun. Songkran is the water festival because the favorite activity at this time of year is throwing water (or at least gently pouring it on elders and Buddha figures). Those visitors who have never been involved in a Thai water fight are in for a real treat. Even those individuals who would normally not enjoy such frolicking appreciate it because the cool water is a blessing in the heat.
For most Thai people this is a time of year to be with family. The villages of rural Thailand see their populations increase as people return home for the holiday. It is a time to party but it is also an occasion to visit the local temples where they cleanse the Buddhist statues. Songkran is a time for renewal. The whole of Thailand celebrates this festival but it is claimed that the biggest celebrations occur in Chiang Mai. Songkran officially takes place between the 13th and 15th of April, but in some parts of the country it will include days prior to and after this date. Songkran is a time when traffic accidents are high so people need to drive carefully.