Thailand King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s coronation puts spotlight on Indian aspects of ceremony

Adulyadej passed away in 2016 at the age of 88, after having ruled for seven decades. Upon his death, the throne was inherited by Maha Vajiralongkorn, also known as Rama X, who had requested for some time to mourn his father’s death before taking over the kingdom symbolically.

Thailand on Saturday observed the beginning of an elaborate three-day coronation ceremony for its new king. Last time such a ceremony took place in the country was back in May 1950 for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as Rama IX. Adulyadej passed away in 2016 at the age of 88, after having ruled for seven decades. Upon his death, the throne was inherited by Maha Vajiralongkorn, also known as Rama X, who had requested for some time to mourn his father’s death before taking over the kingdom symbolically.

The ceremony, which is expected to cost more than $30 million, will be an interesting mix of Buddhist and Brahminical rituals, symbolically declaring the king as devaraja (God-king) and upholder of Buddhism in Thailand. The Indian roots of the Thai king’s coronation ceremony are reflexive of the rich, long relationship that South East Asian countries have shared with Hindu and Buddhist communities in India.

Why Thai coronation ceremony has an Indian touch

French scholar George Coedes is known to be the first person to have carried out an in-depth study of the process of ‘Indianisation’ in South East Asia, whereby he coined the term ‘Farther India’. Trade was perhaps the foremost cause of contact between the two regions. As Coedus notes, individual traders had perhaps set up small kingdoms in South East Asian states, thereby carrying with them Buddhist and Hindu cultural motifs and value systems.

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