|THE PROCESSION TO WAT MAHA THAT
The procession on land is not arranged in the same way every year, but occasionally it is as follows:-
First come in stately order going from the to the principal temple called Nappetat about 83 to 100
elephants, which are sumptuously decorated. On each of these elephants is seated, besides two armed
men, a mandarin in his gilded little house having in front of him a golden basin containing cloth and
presents for the priests. Then follow 50 to 63 elephants, on each of which are sitting two to three men,
each of whom is armed with bows and arrows. After this come, also seated on elephants, the five to six
greatest men of the kingdom, some of them wearing golden crowns, but each with his golden or silver
betel box or any other mark of honor given to him by the king. They are accompanied by their suites of
30 to 60 men afoot.
Following those come 800 to 1,000 men armed with pikes, knives, arrows, bows, and muskets and also
carrying many banners, streamers, and flags. Among these armed men are mixed about 70 or 80
Japanese, who are gorgeously dressed and carry excellent arms. The musicians who follow the
soldiers play on pipes, trombones, horns, and drums and the sound of all these instruments together is
very melodious. The horses and elephants of the king are copiously adorned with gold and precious
stones and are followed by many servants of the court carrying fruits and other things to offer. Many
mandarins accompany these servants.
Then follow on foot with folded hands and stooping bodies (like everyone who rides or walks in front of
the king) many nobles, among them some who are crowned. Then comes the red elephant decorated
very nicely with gold and precious stones. Behind this elephant follow two distinguished men, one of
them carrying the royal sword and the other one the golden standard to which a banner is attached. A
gilded throne follows after them showing how former kings used to be carried on the shoulders of the
people, and then follows His Majesty sitting on an elephant and wearing his royal garments and his
golden crown of pyramidal shape. He is surrounded by many nobles and courtiers. Behind His Majesty
comes a young prince, the legal child of the supreme king, who at present is eleven years old. The
king's brother, being the nearest heir to the throne, follows then with great splendor, and seated on
elephants in little closed houses come after this the king's mother, the queen, and His Majesty's
children and the concubines. Finally many courtiers and great men on horseback, and 300 to 400
soldiers who close the procession.
Altogether about six to seven thousand person participate in this ceremony, but only His Majesty, his
wives, his children, his brother, the four highest bishops, and other high priests enter the temple.
Having stayed inside the temple for about two hours, the king and the whole splendid train return to the
palace in the same order as here described. The streets are very crowded with people from the palace
to the temple, but everyone is lying with folded hands and the head bent to the earth. It is forbidden for
anyone to look at the King's mother, his wives, or children; and the people turn their faces when royal
family passes. Only strangers or foreign ambassadors are allowed to look at them.
Van Vliet's Siam - Chris Baker, Dhiravat Na Pombejra, Alfons Van Der Kraan & David K. Wyatt (2005) - page 117/119.