Today, 5th of December, Thai people celebrate Wan Chalerm Prachon Phansa, the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, which in the country coincides with Father Day. This important public holiday marks one of the most auspicious dates in the Thai calendar. Being Father Day as well, this is also a day given to spend time with families and friends, with many businesses closing to mark the occasion.
During the celebrations, visitors will be impressed by the gorgeous decorations throughout the country, with Thai houses beautifully adorned with flags and pictures portraying His Majesty. The best celebrations are held around Bangkok, where thousands of yellow flags and marigolds decorate the endless main arteries, especially in the evening of the day, when tens of thousands of people take to the streets, strolling along traffic-free lanes to try and catch a glimpse of His Majesty as the royal motorcade passes by, with almost every Thai wearing the colour yellow to mark the occasion.
His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as King Rama IX, ascended to the throne in 1946 and is officially the world’s longest living reigning monarch. Wan Chalerm Prachon Phansa is an important day for Thai people, as their king has a special place in their heart. King Bhumipol has always shown a devotion to the welfare of his people, as well as being a diplomatic monarch when it comes to political and social issues.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej ascended to the throne over 66 years ago, in 1946, and was born in 1927, making this year his 86th Birthday. This is one further occasion for Thailand to celebrate his life, his achievements and his tireless work for the people under his reign that has made him loved and respected by everyone. People scream, wave flags and act in general hysteria in order to display a genuine love for their leader.
There are a few facts about this King that are interesting and worth mentioning: he was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and was taken by his mother to Switzerland when he was 6 years old, where he eventually studied French Literature and Science at the University of Lausanne and where he lost the sight in his right eye in a car accident. During the time spent recovering at the hospital, he was often visited by the daughter of the Thai ambassador to France, who later went on to become his wife, Queen Sirikit. He married her in 1950, just a week before he was crowned King of Thailand.
The King is widely known as a passionate photographer and as an accomplished painter, photographer, author and translator. He is also a jazz musician, with the alto saxophone being his instrument of choice, and became the first Asian composer to be awarded honorary membership of the Academy of Music & Dramatic Arts in Vienna at the age of 32. Another love of His Majesty is sailing: not only he is a pro, but he also designs his own vessels and he has won numerous medals and awards in regattas and races.
Last but not least, the King has one of the longest names in the world: “Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Bhumibol Adulyadej Mahitalathibet Ramathibodi Chakkrinaruebodin Sayamminthrathirat Borommanatbophit”. This roughly translates as “Strength of the Land”, and it is with this strength that he obtains respect and achieves talents that make him of the most effective monarchs in history.