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An incredible occasion for locals and visitors alike, next Monday celebrates the memory of King Rama 9. The Phanganist speaks to Ning, a community member involved in organising the event.
Good morning Ning, thank you for meeting with us.
We’re looking forward to next Monday’s memorial, can you tell us what it’s all about?
The 5th is his birthday. But, [we're] just holding the ceremony.
So hopefully this is something that will become a tradition?
Yes. 5th December is to be announced as King Rama 9’s birthday every year.
This one is for memory and it’s not nice to mix with the birthday day. So, we change [the] day to “do good stuff for him”.
For Thai’s, for Buddhism – we believe that when we do good things for someone, that will go to him. Even if he is in heaven.
Can you talk us through what will happen on the day?
The ceremony is starting from 7 am. A monk, they come and do a ceremony, and 7 am this happen everywhere in Thailand.
At 10 am, preparation and starting the event.
Hairdressers will take their place and start cutting hair. Food area on the side. Another area will be clothes dying area to make clothes black.
Many Thai people don’t have money to buy new clothes.
These students are from a school. They [will] teach many things – how to cook, how to make clothes. They will come and do for free.
Everything is for free. All around the event. Everyone is welcome to join.
It’s amazing – and if a foreigner wants to participate – for example as a hair dresser?
When there is a space for you, we will put you there…. As long as you don’t stand in the middle of the ship!
For example, you are good at drawing, you can draw for free? Or painting the kings face and giving to people.
Anything! Whatever you can think of.
What else will be going on?
After eating and all these things, around 4 pm, everyone is gathering and goes onto the deck around 4.30 – 5 o clock.
I want to get it for sunset to make it simple and nice.
The people will stand around the big ship.
We contacted the school and tried to bring as many children as possible.
We need 968 people to go up on the deck. We calibrated the whole square. So they can make letters, number 9. We try to use the light to create different colours.
What time will the event continue until?
All day long.
So, after 5.30 pm?
The navy will come. I requested for the ceremony.
22 of them will come and play the songs composed by the King and also the songs people composed for the King. We will do it together.
There is one special song called ‘Sansern-Prabaramee’.
I have asked the navy to start that song for everyone. They have their instruments. This is when people will stand around with the candles.
That’s fantastic. It’s sounds like a lot of people have been involved?
Many people have donated. It is over a 100 shops.
Many will serve free coffee. There will be free massages.
It’s not a lot of stuff from each person.
One shop may give 200 of this item and another this item. For example, here:
Ning points to a long, list on his phone
90 scoops of ice-cream from one ice-cream shop, 100 Kilos of rice from another, 240 Eggs. Another 500 eggs.
All the taxi’s will be running around the island for free.
If you say you’re coming to this event. They will take you for free. Also back.
For myself, I do an exhibition.
The exhibition is mainly for King Rama 9 and for Koh Phangan.
Khun Ning takes us into a side room at Nira’s Bakery to show us the photographs prepared for the exhibition.
Some, he tells us are over 40 years old.
Ning tells us the story of one monumental picture which was taken by a famous Thai photographer. He was the only photographer present able to capture the majesty of battleships designed by King Rama 9 himself.
The photograph is beautiful. The composition perfect and symmetrical. Capturing the three ships.
How long will the exhibition continue for after the event?
It’s 5th December to 13th of December.
After 13th, they will try to open the ship every weekend.
The event itself is taking place on a huge battleship at Thong Sala pier. Ning tells us about the preparation involved…
I haven’t had enough sleep for many days.
We did a lot of cleaning…
Ning shows us a video of people cleaning the huge battle ship, inside and out, upstairs and down.
We used water from around the boat and from the fire engine. We had around 20 people. Me, my wife and some other people. Burmese people too. They were very strong.
We’re so impressed here at The Phanganist.
We ask Ning if there’s a message he would like to leave our readers with.
We want to tell everyone. All the foreigners are welcome to join.
Please wear black. Please be there!
We need as many people as we can to come and take pictures and show their respects.
Ning, thank you so much for meeting with us today.