The government has promised the upcoming New Year countdown will be “historic” in that the celebrations will mark a departure from the traditional boisterous revelry in favour of a more subdued affair to mourn the late King’s passing.
The celebrations, in line with the mourning period of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, will see a nationwide mass candle vigil and a prayer to usher in 2017.
Events will start at 9pm on Dec 31 at key venues, including Sanam Luang, and culminate with the mass prayers and vigil followed by singing of Phorn Pi Mai (blessing for the New Year), composed by the late King.
The night’s highlight will be the “Candlelight of Siam” event, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Tanasak Patimapragorn said Monday.
Sanam Luang will be centre stage for the activities, with 100,000 candles to be handed out to participants.
Other celebration areas include the Ratchaprasong intersection and shopping spots in Bangkok as well as key locations in the provinces, Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said.
The solemn New Year countdown will be historic, she said.
Deputy Bangkok governor Amnuay Nimmano said shopping retailers in the Ratchaprasong area agreed not to hold concerts or noisy parties during the countdown.
At Sanam Luang, people will be asked to observe 89 seconds of silence, signifying the age of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
At the stroke of midnight, a gong will be hit nine times to mark the New Year, after which everyone will pray and sing Phorn Pi Mai and the royal anthem.
Candles will be lit at 0.09am on Jan 1, Gen Tanasak said.
Overnight praying is not a new activity as it has become popular over the years.
On Dec 31 last year, up to 18 million people nationwide were estimated to have joined in mass praying at temples, he said.
Authorities expect the mass prayer this year will draw even more people to temples and other spots to mark the passing of the year, according to Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat.