5,000 send off Thai mystic

It was a grand send-off for Chinese Thai mystic White Dragon King on Sunday, a sendoff on a scale that many at the funeral had never seen before.

More than 5,000 people attended it, 2,000 of whom were his disciples.

"Everything went accordingly, like clockwork," said No Signboard Seafood managing director Sam Lim, 36.

He had flown to Bangkok with 20 others on Aug 29 to attend the last days of the wake and the funeral.

The mechanic turned mystic, who was born Chow Yam-nam, but renamed himself Bai Long Wang (White Dragon King), was known as a soothsayer to Hong Kong stars.

He had suffered from bronchitis for years and died in his home in Thailand on Aug 17. He was 76.

Mr Tan Yeow Chong, 40, a tour and transport operator with Siam Kid Travel, said the people have more or less accepted the fact that "the Master is no longer with us".

"The wake itself was long-drawn. It had dragged on for two weeks," he added.

The wake and the funeral were record-breaking.

There were 5,000 attendees, 700 of whom were businessmen and celebrities from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore.

Among them were Hong Kong businessman Albert Yeung and movie director Meng Yao.

$200,000 coffin

The teak coffin, valued at $200,000 and said to be termite-resistant, was hoisted by 20 pallbearers.

Mr Tan, who was helping out at the funeral, gave The New Paper a blow-by-blow account.

He said the ceremony had started solemnly on Sunday morning.

"It was conducted in the typical Thai tradition. The monks chanted prayers followed by the breaking of fast before merit-making commenced."

Merit-making, Mr Tan explained, was when one transfers merits through prayers to the dead.

"After that came the prayers by all attendees," he said.

Devotees and the White Dragon King's family and disciples then waited for about 45 minutes for what is known as the Holy Soil.

"This is soil from the palace grounds, conferred by King Bhumibol Adulyadej," Mr Tan said.

"Representatives from the hospital went to the palace to receive the soil on behalf of the family and brought it over.

"Three disciples went into a trance and assumed the roles of the White, Yellow and Green Dragon kings to give blessings to the people.

"Reporters and photographers jostled, trying to capture it on film. It was the first time they witnessed the phenomenon.

"Then the eight immortals appeared through trance, giving instructions as to how the final rites of White Dragon King should be carried out.

"This was followed by the moving of the casket to its final resting place."

Calm

Mr Lim noticed that the family remained calm throughout.

"Perhaps they grieved in private during the final prayers before the burial," he said.

After the White Dragon King was put to rest, the family and 200 of his disciples gathered outside his tomb for a group photo.

"Trying to return to normalcy, the White Dragon King's wife carried her grandson and ran from one end of the group to the other as the professional photographer was taking a photo of the group.

"This meant she and her grandson appeared twice in the photo," Mr Tan said.

"There was laughter, something, I believe, the Master would have wanted for his family."

Mr Lim said the temple will reopen to the public on Sept 20.

Send-off records

Number of people who attended: 5,000

This includes staff of the Thai Royal family and the government, and about 700 worshippers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore.

Number of disciples attended: 2,000

Number of pallbearers: 20

Value of the teak coffin: $200,000

Number of days the wake was held: 14

Number of condolence wreaths: More than 1,000, many of which were presented by Singaporeans.

Special wreaths included those made of green apple, spoons and baht coins.

Donations to other charitable organisations: 1,000 bicycles and carpets, on which monks sit and chant prayers.

Shortest funeral route: The funeral hall and burial place was within the temple compound.

 

juditht@sph.com.sg

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