Thursday, January 31, 2013

Funeral schedule for Day 1

Front (east) gate of Veal Preah Meru (Man,) the crematorium complex 
of King Kather Norodom Sihanouk, January 31, 2013, 7:00PM.

Brief outline of a rough translation of the published schedule of events for the first day of King Father Norodom Sihanouk's funeral, February 1, 2013:

6:30am-Royalty family's meeting inside the royal palace area
6:40am-Samdech Akah Mohasena Decho Hun Sen & Bun Rany Hun Sen arrive
6:45am-Samdech Akah Moha Ponhea Chakrey Heng Samrin & Lok Chumtiv arrive
6:50am-Samdech Akah Mohathompothisal Chea Sim arrive
6:55am-King Norodom Sihamony arrive
Procession Program:
8:30am - Procession depart. Cannon fire (1st time).
             - King Norodom Sihamoni and the Queen Mother return to the Royal Palace.
10:30am - Ambassadors and wives arrived Veal Preah Man (Meru).
11:00am - The King & the Queen Mother wait at the front of the Victory Gate of the Royal Palace and follow the vehicle carrying the King Father's remains (tinaing bosbok).
              - Move the remains from the vehicle to the Veal Preah Meru. Cannon fire (2nd time).

All the participants circle 3 times and invite 90 monks to pray.

13:00 - 16:00pm - Open to public to come respect and offer blessing to the Former King Sihanouk.
18:00pm - Religious ceremony
18:30pm - Light Preach Meru and the area.
20:00pm - Fireworks and candles.
End of the first day.

Funeral of Sihanouk: Final Touches

A little adjustment and a dab of paint being applied 
to the spire of one of the funerary vehicles.

The funeral of King Father Norodom Sihanouk begins tomorrow, February 1, 2013. The city readies, and final touches are being applied. The ceremony promises to be very elaborate and between 1 and 2.5 million people are expected to attend, many from the countryside. The entire funerary process - a 'second mourning period' - will last a week, beginning on the 1st with a city-circuit funerary procession followed by the cremation 3 days later on the 4th.

The city has been preparing for months, more intensely in the last couple of weeks - building the King Father's extensive crematorium complex next to the Palace, repairing and cleaning the streets along the procession route, erecting portraits, painting curbs and light poles and trimming vegetation. In recent days security across the city has increased considerably, many more police on the streets, barricades for crowd control put in place, road closings around the Royal Palace area widened. The international flags the ordinarily line the riverfront have recently been removed and replaced with exclusively Royal, Buddhist and Cambodian flags at half-staff. Yesterday the crematorium was under-going a final clean-up, the funerary vehicles sat ready in front of the Royal Palace receiving minor adjustments, the parks were being meticulously cleaned and watered and policeman walked the procession routes with loud speakers telling people to remove laundry and clutter from the front of their houses. Tomorrow is the day.

Funerary procession vehicles in front of the Royal Palace, January 30.

Flags at half mast line the riverfront, January 30.

Crowd barricades piled and ready, January 28.

UNESCO building on Sothearos Blvd. with Sihanouk portrait

Sihanouk memorial display in front of Ministry of Justice, Sothearos Blvd.

After the initial mourning period in late October the daily crowds of mourners lingering in front of the Royal Palace began to thin, from thousands, to hundreds and finally dozens. There were always people there, paying respects and mourning, but often less than a hundred or two, except on special occasions such as Sihanouk's 100 day ceremony. Small groups of mourners from the countryside, always clad in white and black, sat in small groups in the road and the park in front of Sihanouk's portrait, praying and meditating. People offered flowers at the Palace wall and had souvenir pictures taken. The number of offering tables in the park opposite the Palace was slowly reduced over the months. But over the past couple of weeks, as the funeral has neared, activity in the area has increased some. On-lookers have become a constant presence at the gate of the rising crematorium and there are now more mourners in attendance and more vendors as well, most selling Sihanouk photos, funeral picture ribbons, flowers, incense and snacks, as well as a few photographers produce souvenir snaps.  

Scene in front of the Royal Palace on the afternoon of January 29, 3013

January 28, 2013. On-lookers at the front gate of the new crematorium complex.

Commemorative photo in front of the Palace.

Vendors in front of Wat Ounalom: photos, posters and ribbons.

Commemorative Sihanouk t-shirts available in the Palace area.

Mourning ribbons available from vendors in the Palace area.

A rough translation of the schedule of Sihanouk's funeral week as published by the Ministry of Information:
Feb 1, 2013 - Funeral process to move the remains of King Father Sihanouk to the crematorium.
Feb 2, 2013 - Lie in state at crematorium.
Feb 3, 2013 - Lie in state at crematorium.
Feb 4, 2012 - Cremation of King Father Sihanouk
Feb 5, 2013 - Collection of the ashes.
Feb 6, 2013 - Procession bearing the ashes to Tonle Chaktomuk (the 'Four Faces', the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers.)
Feb 7, 2013 - Procession bearing the remaining ashes to the Silver Pagoda (Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot)

The Funeral Procession
On February 1st, the King Father's remains will be moved from the Royal Palace to the crematorium (Veal Preah Meru) in the Veal Preah Man Park next to the Palace. The remains will travel by funerary procession on a 6km circuit of the city, beginning and ending at the crematorium. It promises to be a challenge for photographers and journalists: as many as 2 million people will line the procession route, security looks to be tight and the Ministry of Information has issued more than 1000 press passes for the event.

The following description of the route has been published by the government:
1) The procession starts from the crematorium ពីវាលព្រះមេរុ (Veal Preah Meru [Man])
2) It makes its way along the street leading from the gate of the Royal Palace to the popular Preah Ong Dong Ar Temple on Sisowath ឆ្ពោះទៅមុខផ្លូវព្រះអង្គដង្កើ.
3) From there, the procession makes a left and heads north along Sisowath. It goes past the vicinity of the Post Office and then makes a left turn onto Street 95 ផ្លូវលេខ៩៥ (on Google Maps, this street is named a section of Highway 5), the street leading to the Wat Phnom roundabout.
4) It circles the Wat Phnom roundabout and heads south along Norodom Boulevard towards the Independence Monument.
5) At the Independence Monument, it makes a left turn onto Sihanouk Boulevard and heads east towards Sothearos Boulevard.
6) It makes a left turn at Sothearos and heads north along it to finish up at its departure point, the Veal Preah Meru (Man) Crematorium.
As I understand these directions, the procession should follow this route:

Construction of Sihanouk's Crematorium
 In the tradition of earlier Khmer kings, including. King Suramarit, a crematorium and attending structures has been constructed especially for the funeral of King Father Sihanouk in the Veal Preah Man (Meru) park, next to the Royal Palace, in front of the National Museum. The entire structure has risen from nothing to completion in 3 months, construction starting at the beginning of November and finishing touches still being added yesterday (30/1/13).    

Veal Preah Man Park and the National Museum. This photo is a few years old bt the park looked about the same before the construction began. I'm standing in the middle of the park, at about the same place as the central tower will later stand.

November 1, 2012. Construction begins.

November 20, 2012. Central tower begins to rise.

December 1, 2012. Facade foundation being added to central tower. Construction on out structures begins.

December 24, 2012

December 28, 2012. Front gate.

January 25, 2013

January 27, 2013

January 30, 2013