Massive crowd sees off revered Thai monk

Tens of thousands of people yesterday packed events relating to the procession of the body of revered monk Luang Phor Khoon Parisutho when it was taken to a local hospital for medical students to study before being cremated as per his will.

The 12-lane Maliwan Road in front of Khon Kaen University, where the body had been laid in state for seven days, were jammed with congestion shortly before noon, as mourners gathered to bid farewell to the monk.

The provincial police force, and those in neighbouring provinces, deployed 1,300 officers to provide traffic support and security for the procession.

The procession comprised 15 vehicles including a white pick-up truck that carried a coffin decorated with drapes and flowers, with 109 lay people, including politicians and senior monks, present.

Many people laid personal belongings including wallets and handkerchiefs along the route so the pick-up truck ran over the items and, according to the belief, bring them good luck.

Deputy provincial police chief Colonel Suphakorn Singkhamnok said the crowd for the procession might have reached 80,000 and the total number of people travelling to Khon Kaen for the day could have hit 500,000.

A well-known sculpturer, Santi Phichetchaiyakul, made a commemorative bust of Luang Phor Khoon that will be put in front of a unit that, according to a statement by Khon Kaen University's Faculty of Medicine, will preserve the monk's body for one year before it is studied by the medical student for a further two years.