New Year’s Eve in Bangkok was celebrated with a moving candle lighting and prayer ceremony called Sang Thien Haeng Siam or Candlelight of Siam which took place at Sanam Luang in front of the Grand Palace. The event gave the nation a chance to join together and celebrate their Thainess, while seeing in 2017.
Before the prayers took place, everyone was invited to take part in an 89-second silence to pay respect to the late King Rama IX and mark his 89 years.
At midnight, Chairman of the Candlelight of Siam ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn struck a gong 9 times at Sanam Luang and the crowds were invited to sing Phorn Phi Mai (New Year Blessings) and the Royal Anthem to mark the New Year. At 00.09 Hrs. on 1 January, at least 100,000 candles were lit and New Year’s prayers took place to welcome the New Year.
The ceremony was presided over by the Deputy Prime Minister who was joined by Minister of Tourism and Sport, Mrs. Konkarn Wattanavrangkul and TAT Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn as well as high-ranking officials from various public organisations. Big name celebrities, famous for their piety and lives following the teaching of Lord Buddha also came along to inspire the crowds.
H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn, told the crowds that the Candlelight of Siam was a meaningful event that would mark the unity of the Thai nation and the people’s respect for their religion and for their monarch. The singing, candle lighting, praying and sharing brought people together as friends and as families to celebrate Thailand’s culture and heritage.
The traditional Pali chanting had been simplified so that laypeople and visitors could easily join in with the New Year prayers and feel intimately connected with the nation and its traditions.
H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn took the chance to pay his respect to the highly-revered Buddha image at Wat Pho as part of the Candlelight of Siam ceremony to mark the end of 2016.
The Thainess continued into 1 January 2017 when people got the year off to an auspicious start with an alms giving and merit making ceremony. 999 monks, a highly auspicious number according to Thai tradition were given offerings. Throughout the day, people across Thailand took the chance to visit 10 auspicious temples to receive blessings for 2017 and to mark the start of the reign of King Rama X.