Thais honor late King’s birthday by doing good deeds
Thais across the nation donated their time, money, muscle and hearts to help those in need as a way to honor their late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his lifetime of working for the less fortunate, on December 5, the anniversary of his birthday, also observed as Father’s Day in Thailand.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, King Bhumibol’s heir and successor, asked that henceforth the day also be observed as Thailand’s National Day. He presided over a religious ceremony at the Grand Palace as an act of devotion and merit making for his father a little more than one month after presiding over the royal cremation – a spectacular affair attended and watched by millions. The cremation signaled the end of the official yearlong mourning period for King Bhumibol who passed away on October 13, 2016.
With emotions about the late monarch still running high, countless people donated blood, distributed food to the poor, swept streets and cleaned up public spaces, and offered their professional services – especially medical services – free of charge as a way of adhering to the values King Bhumibol held and demonstrated throughout his life and 70-year reign.He was the longest reigning monarch in the world at the time of his death at the age of 89.
King Bhumibol and members of the royal family launched over 4,000 Royal Development Projects during his time on the throne. Most of them were intended to improve the lives of those less fortunate as well as remote and poor communities. They were projects, not programs, meant to demonstrate innovative and possible solutions to problems, and to inspire others – both government officials and private citizens – to work and to give towards bettering the lives of all Thais.
The government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has urged Thais to observe the late King’s birthday not just as Father’s Day, but as a “day of doing good deeds” as a way of honoring King Bhumibol and sustaining his legacy as a permanent part of the culture and history of the nation.
Buddhism is the predominant faith in Thailand, and Buddhist temples often serve as centers and conduits for distributing help and assistance to the poor and those in need. Consequently, vast numbers of Thais donated alms to Buddhist temples on the late King’s birthday as a way of helping the poor.
Among those giving alms to the Buddhist sangha, or clergy, was Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha who led several of his ministers to the Royal Plaza in Bangkok to make offerings to 910 monks.
In Washington D.C., United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement that read, “We remember the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s deep and enduring friendship with the United States and we look forward to further nurturing that friendship under the leadership of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn.”