Royal barges restored for King’s 72nd birthday celebration

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Restoration of 52 royal barges will be completed in time for a royal kathin ceremony in October, as part of celebrations for the King’s 72nd birthday on July 28, according to the Culture Ministry.

Culture Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol stated today that only minor details remain, with the work scheduled to finish by the end of this month. The Fine Arts Department (FAD) has been instructed to prepare for the royal barge procession and kathin ceremony on October 27.

The upcoming barge procession will be the first of its kind during His Majesty the King’s reign. Their Majesties, the King and Queen, will travel to Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan for the robe-offering ceremony.

A total of 52 royal barges will participate in the procession, creating a 1,200-metre-long and 90-metre-wide formation along the Chao Phraya River. Approximately 2,200 oarsmen will be required for the event.

The restoration of the royal barges is overseen by the Conservation Science Division of the National Museum Office and the Office of Traditional Arts. The government has allocated a central budget of 47.3 million baht for the restoration of the 52 royal barges. The FAD is focused on conserving the barges to ensure their safety and functionality while maintaining the tradition of the barge procession, which is a highlight of this globally unique ceremony.

“The restoration work is almost 100% done. The process will be finished by June 30.”

Showcase of Thai culture

This restoration initiative also aligns with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s desire to see the royal ceremony, eagerly anticipated by both Thai and international visitors, showcase Thailand’s rich cultural heritage.

The Culture Ministry will collaborate with the Tourism and Sports Ministry to promote the beauty of the royal barges post-procession. The National Museum of Royal Barges in Bangkok’s Bangkok Noi district houses eight royal barges: Suphannahong, Narayana Song Suban, Anantanagaraj, Anekajatbhujonga, and four escort barges including Ekachai Hoen Hao, Asura Wayu Phak, Khrut Hoen Het, and Krabi Prap Muang Man.

FAD plans to promote the royal procession and provide detailed information on each barge through its virtual museum. Additionally, operating hours will be extended from 4pm to 8pm in December as a New Year’s gift to tourists, supporting the government’s soft power policy.

According to the Royal Thai Navy, His Majesty the King has granted permission to anchor three royal barges—Suphannahong, Narayana Song Suban, and Anantanagaraj—at Ratchaworadit Pier for an outdoor exhibition, which will feature a show by oarsmen twice daily on July 28 and 29. An exhibition honouring His Majesty the King will also be held, announced Capt Songchai Jitwang, Chief of Staff of the Administrative Department of the Royal Thai Navy, reported Bangkok Post.

A rehearsal of the royal barge procession will take place before the royal kathin ceremony.

Bangkok NewsPolitics NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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