Today, 12 August, is the birthday of HRH Queen Sirikit of Thailand and thus a national holiday during which all loyal and devoted subjects of the Kingdom wish Her Majesty a long life of good health and happiness. As the Thai people regard the Queen as mother of the entire nation the day is also celebrated as National Mother’s Day. Prior to 1976, Mother’s Day was celebrated on 15 April. Throughout Thailand, the occasion is marked by the Queen’s flag — powder blue with her Royal cipher emblazoned in the center — flying from buildings and along roadsides. White jasmine flowers are also much in evidence, symbolizing a mother’s love for her children as being white and pure.
Schools and many other businesses throughout Thailand are closed today (and some will remain closed on Monday) and large gatherings are held in many communities, accompanied by a candlelight vigil and the en masse singing of the Thai National Anthem and Royal Anthem. The evening’s festivities are concluded with a fireworks display. In Phuket, the largest gathering traditionally has been by the teachers of local schools (many university students also attend this one) at Sapan Hin, a large multipurpose area in the southern reaches of Phuket Town. This was the first year I didn’t attend since 2006 (I’m sure my presence would have been welcome but it was not required by my new school). I was, however, able to watch the fireworks from there — and elsewhere around Phuket Town — while standing on my fourth-floor apartment’s balcony.
Long Live the Queen!
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