Thailand is one of the last countries in the world that most of the people still have so much love for the king. The king is the soul of the nation. I grew up in Thailand. As a Thai, I thought I had known well about the love of Thai people toward our king but not knowing well enough till the day King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away.
October 13, 2016 after the prime minister officially confirmed the news I quickly headed to Siriraj hospital, where the king’s body was for shooting. I got there about 8.30 pm. which was quite late. The soldiers already started removing people out of the hospital for a parade to deliver the body to Grand Palace for the funeral. I stuck in front of the gate with many people. Some people were still crying and many of them still had the crying mark on their faces.
Time passing by but seems more and more people were coming. Some people started siting down on the street then many people followed. Some people started praying for the king then many people followed. Some people started singing a song for the king then many people followed. I asked if there is anyone know that the mourning event would happen but no one know. As a normal people I’m sure everyone knew that they won’t be able to get inside but they just wanted to be there. I can feel at that time they didn’t even care what would happen actually they just wanted to be close by their beloved king.
It was not just that day. It kept go on like this after the bureau placed the body at the Grand Palace for the formal funeral as well. Thousands of people everyday queuing for praying respect the king inside the Palace. And many more were sitting around the wall praying and even touching wall. The image of people touching the wall was magically moved me. I was very intrigued by the melancholy I felt and it was the feeling that made these people came so far for just touching the wall. It made me, not as a journalist but as a Thai awared that I need to document the feeling of myself and Thai people toward this important historical moment of the country.
Black Day is my personal project during a year long mourning capturing the air of melancholy surrounded Thailand. It is the evidence of the emotion of Thais toward the lost of the people who is the heart of the country. It is the fiction I hope it is non-fiction.
Ekkarat Punyatara is a National Geographic Thailand’s photo editor and staff photographer based in Bangkok, Thailand. His photography is inspired by fascination in Thai culture that he was rooted since childhood by his conservative family. Beside worldwide assignments as an outsider, Ekkarat will be in his home country documenting and portraiting the lives of his beloved country as the sight of the insider.