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Royal Barge Procession

A royal Barge, as depicted on the Chao Phraya RiverOne of the most spectacular events marking the 60th anniversary celebrations is the Grand Royal Barge procession, beginning at five o'clock in the evening of the 12th of June on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.

The Royal Barge Procession is unique to Thailand, and Thai kings have staged such water-borne events since the Sukhothai period in the 13th century. Once staged as a show of strength, the Royal Barge Procession has evolved into one of the royal court traditions to demonstrate the power of the king. In the reign of King Narai the Great of the 17th century Ayutthaya period, His Majesty occasionally travelled aboard the Royal Barge Procession to receive foreign envoys and dignitaries. Rythmic rowing songs were first composed in the reign of King Borommakot, also in the Ayutthaya period, and those same songs have been in use up until recently. A new boat song, however, has been especially composed for this auspicious occasion, and will provide accompaniment as the 1,200 meter long and 90 meters wide procession makes its forty five minute journey. The grand procession will involve 52 traditional - style barges. A total of Navy officers from various units within the Royal Thai Navy will serve as oarsmen. The composition describes His Majesty's contributions to the country, the grandeur of the royal barge procession, and the beauty of the country. Night processions are very rare, the first one being held in 2003 to mark the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok.

A Royal Barge passing before the Grand Palace.

At the centre of this year's procession will be the four major royal barges:

  • The Subanahongsa -- or Golden Swan.
  • The Anantagaraj -- or Multiple-headed Naga.
  • The Narai Song Suban King Rama IX -- Phra Narai's divine vehicle.
  • The Anekajatibhujonga -- or Innumerable Naga Figures.

The Royal Barge Procession will travel along the Chao Phraya River from the Wasukri Landing close to the National Library, to the Memorial Bridge. A spectacular light and sound presentation will be staged in conjunction with the procession.

See related articles (The Diamond Jubilee of His Majesty):

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