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Economy

Thailand's yearlong mourning for King Bhumibol comes to a close

Government officials, civilians will stop wearing black as normalcy returns

Grieving crowds dressed in black gathered around the Royal Palace to bid their final farewell to the late King Bhumibol in Bangkok, Oct. 29. (Photo by Shinya Sawai)

BANGKOK -- The five-day cremation ceremony of Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej ended on Sunday after the cremated remains were placed at their final resting places in the sixth and last procession led by royal family members including King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, the late monarch's successor and only son.

Some of the late king's relics were enshrined at a hall inside the Royal Palace while ashes held in two pots were conveyed to royal temples outside the palace, namely Wat Rajabopidh and Wat Bovoranives. The remaining relics will stay with royal family members.

Grieving crowds dressed in black gathered around the Royal Palace and alongside roads leading to the two temples to watch the procession carrying the royal remains and bid their final farewell.

This marks the end of a yearlong mourning period for the much-revered monarch. Government officials that had been required to wear black clothes for the past year will be dressing normally from Monday. The government has advised the public to stop wearing black too.

Mourning signs and black-and-white banners that had been put up on streets and buildings across the nation for the past year are to be taken down. 

Color will be returning to daily life. Everything that had been switched to black and gray tones for the past weeks for the final mourning period, from corporate websites to TV programs, departure boards at airports and profile pictures on social media accounts, is expected to return to normal.

The grand crematorium compound where the late king was cremated on Thursday will be brought down in a month's time. From Thursday to Nov. 30, the general public will be allowed to visit and long queues are expected.

Smoke rises during the royal cremation of Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Royal Crematorium in Bangkok on Oct. 26.   © Reuters

The 30,000-sq.-meter compound, which features the 50-meter-tall golden crematorium, was specially built for the late king in Sanam Luang, an open area in front of the royal palace. Construction took nearly nine months and more than 500 million baht ($15 million) was spent.

Thursday was the most important of the five-day ceremony as it included the cremation and a grand procession. Some 350,000 Thais gathered at areas around the Royal Palace -- many of whom spent days and nights on the pavement to secure the best viewing spots. Retailers, restaurants and entertainment venues such as movie theaters were temporarily closed but many have resumed normal operations since Friday.

The five-day ceremony was broadcast on all of the country's TV channels.

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