Last night, as people everywhere celebrated the end of 2016 and looked forward to welcoming the prosperous New Year, Thailand saw in the New Year with a moving candle lighting and prayer ceremony joined by hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Sang Thien Haeng Siam or Candlelight of Siam, gave the nation a chance to join together and celebrate their Thainess.
Everyone was welcomed to the Candlelight of Siam event in Bangkok’s famous Sanam Luang in front of the Grand Palace – the historic heart of the nation, as well as at stunning sites around Rattanakosin Island; such as, the iconic Wat Arun and Wat Pho. Other temples and gathering places across Thailand took part in the Candlelight of Siam event held in modern venues from Pathumwan to Phrom Phong including the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), Siam Paragon, Ratchaprasong Intersection CentralWorld, Central Embassy, Terminal 21, and EmQuartier Mall. By joining the ceremony, locals and guests alike marked the beginning of 2017 in a memorable Thai way.
H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, said, “Candlelight of Siam was a meaningful event to mark the unity of the nation, our loyalty, and respect for the monarch. The singing, candle lighting, praying and sharing brought people together as friends, as families and let us welcome 2017 in a way that reflects our culture and heritage.”The candlelight of Siam started at 19.00 Hrs. Pre-New Year Countdown activities included the signing of a pledge to live a good life over the next year.
Attendees picked up candles for the lighting ceremony.At 21.00 Hrs., everyone was invited to take part in an 89-second silence to pay respect to the late King Rama IX, marking his 89 years. From 23.45-23.55 Hrs., the New Year’s Eve prayers took place. The traditional Pali chanting had been simplified so that laypeople and visitors could easily join in.
At midnight, Chairman of the Candlelight of Siam ceremony, H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn struck a gong 9 times at Sanam Luang and the monks continued with the Buddhist prayers as the crowds were invited to sing Phorn Phi Mai (New Year Blessings) and the Royal Anthem to mark the New Year and pay respects to King Rama X. 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.
H.E. Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports said, “Candlelight of Siam was just one of many traditional candle lighting and prayer ceremonies that took place at Thai temples and ceremonial grounds across the nation last night. Other major locations included Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Songkhla (Hat Yai), Kanchanaburi, and Phuket. People in the heart of Bangkok, from the Pathumwan Intersection and Ratchaprasong shopping district to the Asoke Intersection and Phrom Phong BTS Station, also had the chance to light candles in the traditional way.”
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said, “2016 was a year that marked both the ending of an era and the beginning of a new chapter in Thailand’s history. So we wanted to close 2016 in a truly Thai way that would be memorable to everyone. So, I’d like to thank all Thais and our foreign guests all over the country for joining in last night’s New Year ceremony. We hope you took home some moving memories of this special event.”