Happy birthday to HM Queen Sirikit of Thailand and to granddaughter Siree (pictured in her royal mode). Their birthdays are August 12 and 13 one day and sixty-seven years apart.
Queen Sirikit will be 82 this Tuesday. Since 1976 her birthday has been a Thai national holiday, and since the time of Gen Prem Tinsulanonda as Prime Minister, the Queen’s birthday has also been commemorated as national Mother’s Day. During the Queen’s long and illustrious reign she has promoted Thai traditional textiles, playing an important role in preserving the art of weaving complicated silk patterns. Her world tour in 1960 during which she wore Thai silk all the time is considered a key factor in the emergence of Thai silk as a major product. She has also been appreciated for her involvement in Muslim relations and for her annual periods of residence in Muslim areas of Southern Thailand. On July 21, 2012 she suffered an ischemic stroke [according to a Bureau of the Royal Household announcement that day] and has refrained from public appearances since then.
The Queen’s birthday will be observed in a large number of ways. Categories of these observations include recognition of her birthday and Mother’s Day commemorations. Throughout the country there are countless opportunities for everyone to sign greeting books which are forwarded to the palace. Many governmental, commercial and philanthropic groups will buy space in newspapers and time on TV to express greetings to the Queen, using poetic and formal language. Official ceremonies will be held in every province with presentation of traditional gold and silver globes and candle lighting. A gathering at the Royal Palace is also traditional, an event at which the Queen used to address the nation; her speeches often set in motion projects to improve the environment or to highlight social concerns. People participating in those activities will probably wear sky-blue, since that is the Queen’s color, she having been born on a Friday. Mother’s Day events linked to the Queen’s birthday include awards ceremonies for “mothers of the year” in various categories. Scholarship presentations at schools, along with merit-making opportunities in temples connected to schools, and such diverse things as essay and art contests will also be held. The nature of these is extremely creative.
The formal expression of good wishes for royal occasions is song phra charoen generally translated “Long live the Queen” following British custom, “God save the Queen and long live the Queen”. The Thai phrase more literally means, “Prosper!” or “May you prosper”. That is our wish for Her Majesty.
On a somewhat smaller scale, family and friends of Siree McRady will be celebrating her fifteenth birthday on August 13. Perhaps “celebrating” is a bit strong, since the main event will be the first day of the new school year at the Chiang Mai International School. To avoid overcrowding the calendar, we provided Siree with our version of a debutante coming out party a couple of weeks ago, a glamour photo-shoot with a dinner for those involved. It was a “crowning” achievement, as the picture shows. I am sure that Siree’s mother will bake a cake for the actual day. In place of a national essay competition, I would just like to offer Siree a simple “Happy Birthday. Have a great year.”
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.