KHON KAEN — A lavish funeral began for followers to bid farewell to one of the kingdom’s most-beloved monks Tuesday, nearly four years after he died.
Funerary rites began one day after the body of Phra Thep Wittayakom, aka Luang Phor Koon Paritsuttho, was released by Khon Kaen University’s medical school, to which he had donated his body. He died in May 2015.
Officials estimate up to 100,000 people will attend his funeral daily. A royal cremation ceremony, organized by the university at Wat Nong Wang, will end Jan. 30.
During his 70 years as a monk, the former abbot of a Nakhon Ratchasima temple was highly admired as a role model for living as he preached and an ability to simplify his messages for the masses. His authenticity saw his fame spread from a small provincial ascetic to a large national following.
Despite his wishes for a “simple” funeral at the university, his followers sponsored a grand affair featuring a massive crematorium and several days of events.