- Title: Ayuthaya elephants, mahouts pay respects to late king Bhumibol Adulyadej
- Date: 8th November 2016
- Summary: BAGPIPER WALKING IN PROCESSION
- Embargoed: 23rd November 2016 05:47
- Keywords: elephants Ayuthaya king mourning palace respects
- Location: BANGKOK, THAILAND
- City: BANGKOK, THAILAND
- Country: Thailand
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00257L2D6T
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Eleven elephants from Thailand's ancient capital of Ayutthaya were brought by handlers to Bangkok on Tuesday (November 8) where Thailand's late king Bhumibol Adulyadej is lying in state.
The pachyderms, painted in white to symbolize royal white elephants, and around 200 of their handlers, also known as mahouts, joined a procession dedicated to the king as they marched, bowed in front of the Grand Palace gate, and observed a minute of silence.
Ayuthaya Elephant Palace owner, Laithongrien Meephan, who led the procession said the practice to participate in the traditional ritual is thought to be one of the toughest training for the elephants in modern day.
"This is the biggest event in my life. Although there may be other events which involved more number of elephants, with elephants this huge that were able to synchronize their movement is something that I've never done before. But I'm familiar with all of the elephants that took part in today's event, they are like brothers and sisters. Therefore, I was confident that they could definitely execute the rituals beautifully," he said.
The elephants and their handlers took three weeks to practice for the event.
Those who saw the elephants were impressed.
"The elephants managed to stay very calm even though there were lots of people gathering around them, they still were able to carry out the ritual at best. People were happy to be able to watch this," local resident Orranart Chudboonchart added.
King Bhumibol died on October 13 at the age of 88, after 70 years on the throne, plunging the country into grief.
The military government declared official mourning for a year and called for all festivities be postponed for an initial 30-day period, though it also asked for businesses and investors to maintain economic activity.
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