Happy King Chulalongkorn Day

23 October of every year is a national holiday in Thailand – it is “King Chulalongkorn Day” or, how Thais call it: “Wan Piyamaharaj Day”. It is the memorial day of the passing away of King Chulalongkorn, a.k.a. King Rama V. King Rama V is famous for leading several major reforms in Thailand. Some of those reforms have been in the areas of the educational system, military affairs, State Railway and Slave Liberation – all of this without bloodshed.

Who is King Chulalongkorn

King Chulalongkorn is the fifth king of Siam under the House of Chakri. He is the son of King Mongkut and the grandfather of the current King of Thailand, His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

King Chulalongkorn had studied various branches of arts and sciences such as Royal Tradition, Public Administration, Archaeology, Pali, English, Military Science Wrestling, Weapon Using, and Engineering.

Besides that he also travelled quite a bit with destinations being Singapore and Java. He travelled to different countries in order to achieve more knowledge and bring back new approaches to the kingdom. He is credited with the modernization and westernization of Thailand.

How did King Chulalongkorn become one of Thailand’s most loved and revered King?

King Chulalongkorn thought to be one of the best kings of any Asian country. His reign from 1868 to 1910 was characterised by intensive social and economic development, as well as the abolishment of slavery and labor (state labor service). He’s conjointly known for his ardent Thai nationalism, and for his talent in avoiding the threat of European influence, despite the very fact that enormous tracts of Thailand were ceded to the Europeans throughout the years.

King Chulalongkorn managed to forestall Thailand as the only Southeast Asian country from being settled by extending friendly relationships and travel extensively to western countries like America, GB, France and Russia. Thanks to this, Siam remained the only country in the geographic area to never been colonized.

Besides that, King Chulalongkorn was the first Thai King to send the Royal Princes to be educated in Europe. Throughout Chulalongkorn’s reign, radical writers had their works revealed for the primary time. Works that were antecedently prohibited were allowed to be observed by the general public once more.

King Chulalongkorn was maybe best best-known for his abolishment of slavery. In 1900 the utilization Act expressed that every one employees ought to be paid. All the slaves in Thailand were freed and an order was put in place that they’d not get fired.

The announcement of Slave abolishment Act lead to him being considered one of the nicest Kings by the Thai people.

In the starting of his reign, more than 1/3 of the Thai population were slaves. It was so because there was the endless continuity of offspring slaves. They all were slaves for the rest of their lives. Traditionally children of slaves also became slaves.

The King conjointly modernised government and made the administration of the country more efficient by dividing it into provinces and districts. He replaced the normal lunar calendar with the Western calendar. Thailand was a Buddhist country however he made it clear that different religions (including Islam and Christianity) ought to have the liberty to practise without worrying of maltreatment. Communications within the country were improved greatly with the introduction of communication services, the telegraph and also the construction of Thailand’s 1st railway (from capital of Thailand to Ayutthaya).

How Do Thais celebrate Chulalongkorn Memorial Day in Thailand?

Many Thais show their respects for King Chulalongkorn by placing wreaths at the Equestrian Statue at the Royal Plaza during the holiday. Much of this part of Bangkok was originally built during the reign of King Chulalongkorn and shows the architectural mix of Thai and European styles that were so characteristic of his era.

Besides the Royal Plaza, all other statues of King Chulalongkorn all around the Kingdom of Thailand see smaller scaled ceremonies. Most businesses function as usual but Government organizations are closed on this day.

Sascha Funk

Founder / Editor at
Sascha is the publisher of and switched from an online marketing agency life in Europe to a teaching and education life in Thailand. He also writes about Teaching & Technology.

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