Officials at Khon Kaen University’s Faculty of Medicine on Monday morning began moving the remains of 647 “Khru Yai” to the school’s Golden Jubilee Convention Hall for ritual prayers known as Abhidhamma.
The remains included those of the highly venerated northeastern monk Luang Phor Koon Parisuttho.
Royally sponsored cremation rites will follow on January 29 for 144 of the cadavers, including Luang Phor Koon.
Of the rest, 495 are now merely skeletons and will not be cremated, while eight others who died of cancer or in vehicle crashes will be honoured in name only.
Medical students lined the route on which the coffins were carried in solemn procession, offering prayers for peaceful afterlives.
Luang Phor Koon was moved at 1pm by a decorated vehicle provided by Bangkok’s Wat Traimit. The procession went along the Mitraprap Highway and Kalapapreuk Road to the convention hall. People lined the route to pay their respects and try to catch one of the 30,000 souvenir “Dok Khoon Boon” coins wrapped in yellow paper that staff on the truck tossed out. Police and soldiers were there to provide security along the way to maintain order.
Ceremonial “apologies” was offered to the 647 Khru Yai at 5pm and the Abhidhamma prayers will begin at 7pm.
From January 22-28, daily from 8am-10pm, the public will be able to pay respects to Luang Phor Koon.
The monk’s body, covered with a monk’s robe, as well as his dissected tissues held in jars, were placed in a tightly-sealed coffin made of fragrant sandalwood during a ceremony at 5.30pm on Sunday. The ceremony was witnessed by faculty dean Charnchai Panthongviriyakul, senior monks and Luang Phor Koon’s relatives and close disciples as well as medical students.
Charnchai said the coffin will not be re-opened and would be placed in a specially-designed cremation chamber under which is a stainless steel box to catch the ashes.
The steel box will be padlocked using four keys held by four trusted people, and would be wrapped in a monk’s robe pending merit-making rites. The box will later be reopened on a boat to allow Luang Phor Koon’s ashes to be scattered onto the Mekong River, he added.
Luang Phor Koon was one of the country’s most revered monks and had a large number of followers nationwide. He died at the age of 92 on May 16, 2015. In his will, he donated his body for medical research at KKU and requested it be cremated to avoid a “burden to others” or of anyone taking advantage of his body, as well as to prevent conflicts among disciples.