Monday, February 4, 2013

Funeral of Sihanouk: Day 4, cremation

The pyre lit 20 minutes earlier, smoke emanates from Veal Preah Man.
Rest in Peace King Sihanouk.
Today, day 4 of King Father Norodom Sihanouk's funeral, was the day of the primary ceremony and the cremation. The ceremony was attended by family, friends, monks, government officials and foreign dignitaries. Dozens of journalists and photographers were in evidence. Most of the area was sealed off to the general public. The ceremony appeared to come off without a hitch, culminating in the lighting of the funeral pyre and smoke emanating from the crematorium, sometimes profusely. Afterward, there was another cannon salute, more fireworks, and the barricades keeping the public at bay were opened shortly thereafter. The Palace area was almost immediately filled with what I would estimate to be in the tens of thousands of people. 
Hotels around  Veal Preah Man were instructed to cover their windows to 
prevent people from looking down on the area.

Mid-afternoon. Dignitaries and other attendees begin to arrive at Veal Preah Man.

The entire area around Veal Preah Man (Meru) and the Royal Palace was closed to the general public. Only those with passes, people that lived in the surrounding buildings, a smattering of tourists that happened to be staying at hotels within the area, and a fortunate few that somehow managed to finagle their way past the cordon were able to get close enough to Veal Preah Man to have a view of the proceedings. This small group of mourners sat in a small alley opposite the north gate of Veal Preah Man (Meru.)

Dozens of foreign dignitaries came to pay their respects, passing slowly 
through the crematorium and exiting by the north door.

The honor gaurd's duty complete, they make their final retreat from the crematorium. 

The King.

Smoke rises from the crematorium. 6:54PM. 

Mourner at north gate of Veal Preah Man. The pyre lit and smoke rising. 

Shortly after the cremation, I left Veal Preah Man, walked to the Palace area and then north up Sisowath Quay, all of which was still almost completely empty of people. At Street 154, thousands and thousands of people who had been kept away from the funeral area were waiting on the other side of a barricade. About 10 minutes later the police opened parts of the barricade and began to let people through...
Within 15 minute the Royal Palace area, including the riverfront park, the Palace park, Sisowath Quay and Sothearos Blvd in front of the Palace was filled with people, laying flowers at the Palace, trying to get a glimpse of Veal Preah Man and the rising smoke, sitting in the parks and street watching a replay of the funeral proceedings on the giant TV mounted on the face of the Palace...

Watching the big TV

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