Thais in America to honor H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej with ceremonial offerings of sandalwood flowers

To honor the life and legacy of their late beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the only King ever born in the United States, tens of thousands of Thais around America will gather at 58 Buddhist temples in the U.S. on October 26 to mark the royal cremation of the late King taking place that day in Bangkok, Thailand.

To express their devotion to their late monarch, who was regarded by his people as the nation’s moral compass, Thais will make offerings of sandalwood flowers and prayers at the Buddhist temples. Traditional Thai belief is that the scent of sandalwood will lead the soul of the deceased to heaven.

In the Thai capital, leaders and dignitaries from over 30 countries will attend the elaborate royal cremation ceremony. Millions of Thai mourners are expected to gather near the site of the ceremony to bid a final farewell to the monarch who worked relentlessly on their behalf.

In the Washington D.C. area, the main sandalwood offering ceremony and viewing of the cremation in Bangkok will take place at Wat Thai Washington D.C. on Layhill Road in Silver Springs, Maryland.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away on October 13, 2016 at the age of 89 after 70 years on the throne during which he launched over 4,000 royal development projects to better the lives of his people, earning him their loyalty, reverence and love, along with global recognition and awards.

Buddhist custom requires cremation roughly one week after a person has passed, but the rites surrounding a royal cremation are exceptional and usually take place after a mourning period of about one year.

During the one-year mourning period for His Majesty King Bhumibol, over 12 million Thais paid their respects to his remains at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. As His Majesty King Bhumibol was the longest-reigning monarch in the world at the time of his passing, most Thais have never witnessed a royal cremation ceremony.

A spectacular gilded pavilion has been erected in Bangkok for the ceremony, which will be led by Buddhist and Brahmin clergy and King Bhumibol’s heir King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun and other members of the royal family.

Traveling to Thailand to represent the United States at the cremation will be Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Thailand is the oldest treaty ally of the United States in Asia.

King Bhumibol was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on December 5, 1927 while his parents were studying for their medical and nursing degrees at Harvard and Simmons College. The King highly valued good relations between Thailand and the land of his birth. In 1960, he addressed a joint session of Congress.

In the Washington D.C. area including Virginia and Maryland, the Royal Thai Embassy along with the Thai community and the Thai Temples, namely Wat Tummaprateip in Maryland and Wat Yarnna Rangsee Buddhist Monastery, Wat Pa Nanachart, Wat Pa Tesrangsee and Wat Pasantidhamma, all of which are in Virginia will make offerings and observe the ceremony at Wat Thai Washington D.C.

Friends of the Thai community are welcome and may attend at their convenience. Details of the cremation ceremony at Wat Thai Washington D.C.:

Wat Thai Washington D.C.
13440, Layhill Road, Silver Spring, Maryland 20906
Thursday October 26, 2017
05:30 a.m. – 06:00 p.m.

You may consider attending the ceremony at time of convenience from 5:30 am onwards, or preferably from 05:30 – 11:00 am.

05:30 am Merit-making ceremony
06:00 am Watch the royal cremation ceremony live from Bangkok
06:30 am Offering Sandalwood flowers begins
07:00 am Food Offering to monks (breakfast)
11:00 am Dana / Lunch
06:00 pm Offering sandalwood flowers ends


Dress code:  Full dress / Black or dark dress / Mourning

Sandalwood flowers: Sandalwood daffodils made by volunteers will be provided to offer at the ceremony.  The daffodil, or dararat in Thai, was His Majesty King Bhumibol’s favorite flower and he often presented them to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit during their courtship in Switzerland. Dararat are offered to loved ones as a symbol of honor, bravery and hope. Dara means star while Rat means precious gem.

Food & Beverages: Provided by Team Thailand in Washington D.C. and the Thai community.

Parking and Shuttle Service: For your convenience, two  parking lots nearby Wat Thai are allocated at your own risk with shuttle car services available from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PDF file)