Thais celebrate Queen Sirikit’s 86th birthday

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun and members of the royal family participated in a Buddhist merit-making ceremony with his mother Her Majesty Queen Sirikit at Chitralada Palace in Bangkok last week to mark her 86th birthday. Thais also celebrate Queen Sirikit’s birthday as Mother’s Day, and the palace used the occasion to honor the mother of the late cave diving SEAL Saman Kunan as an Outstanding Mother of Year.

All around the Kingdom, people made offerings at Buddhist temples to honor Queen Sirikit, regarded as the “Mother of the Nation” and their own mothers. Most were blue, which is the color associated with Friday, the day of the week Queen Sirikit was born. People also gave their time and efforts as a show of respect for the Queen; sweeping streets, distributing meals to the poor, and by providing free health care and other services.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha led thousands of citizens and members of various branches of government in a ceremony to show devotion to Queen Sirikit at Sanam Luang, the Royal Field, in front of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Grand Palace in Bangkok’s old quarter.

At Chitralada Palace, King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, read well wishes to Queen Sirikit as they kneeled by her side while Buddhist monks chanted sutras.

Also present at the ceremony were Princess Bajrakitiyabha, Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti. All, including Queen Sirikit, wore blue.

Along with her late husband King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Queen Sirikit earned a global reputation for her hard work and sacrifices to help improve the lives of all the Thai people. Together, they launched over 4,000 Royal Development Projects. Queen Sirikit placed a special emphasis on projects that helped advance women’s status and preserved local culture and the traditional arts.

As has become customary on the Queen’s birthday, the palace bestowed honors on women across the Kingdom as Outstanding Mothers of the Year, and to exemplary offspring. This year, 225 women and 108 dutiful children were so honored.

Among them was 64-year-old Samran Kunan whose only son Saman Kunan was the Navy SEAL diver who perished in the mission to rescue the 13 young soccer players from the flooded Tham Luang Cave last month.

Princess Soamsawali, presided over the ceremony yesterday on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit and presented Samran with the award.

“As his mother, I am proud of his sacrifice. I am glad and honored to have received the award today,” Samran said, adding that she raised Saman to always help others and to do good deeds.

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It was a bittersweet moment, however, as she admitted she misses him every day. “He’s my only son,’’ she said.

Saman has become a hero and symbol of bravery and sacrifice for others to the entire Thai nation and to many people who watched the cave rescue around the world.

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