Family and disciples say farewell to the White Dragon King in Pattaya
Family and disciples dress all in white as they pay final tributes to the master Chau Yum-nam
The White Dragon King Temple in the Thai resort of Pattaya was jammed with people, all dressed in white, as they paid final tribute to their master, Chau Yum-nam.
By coincidence or, as some followers believed, the supernatural power of Chau, claps of thunder accompanied the gongs and drums at the moment Chau was buried, though the sky was clear just minutes before. Some pointed up, claiming a stretch of cloud over the newly built hall where Chau was buried resembled a dragon.
Chau, who died last month at the age of 76, was considered by many to be a portal of the Chinese deity White Dragon King. Chau had a vision of the deity when he was 13 years old and built the temple at 28, purportedly following the deity's order.
Chau's followers include many Hong Kong celebrities, such as Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Andy Lau Tak-wah.
Monks began their rituals at 8am yesterday, and the ceremony lasted until 2pm. More than 1,000 followers, including directors Andrew Lau and Wong Jing, and businessman Albert Yeung Sau-shing attended the funeral.
Businessman Wong Chong-shan, also known as Kanjanapas Keeree, who first introduced Chau to Hong Kong celebrities, and some other followers paid their tribute earlier.
Monks led the progression, followed by flower bearers, the picture of Chau, the family, the coffin and then the followers. They marched to a newly built Yum Nam hall for the burial.
The King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, granted some royal soil for the burial of Chau. Chau's granddaughter Duang Porn, 16, represented the family to give a letter of thanks to the monarch's representatives.
"I'm very proud to represent my grandfather. I love him so much," she said.
Followers were told to kneel outside the area where rituals were performed. A yellow flag was swept across their heads and water sprinkled at them.
Fruit, mooncakes and pastries from the family and followers were offered to Chau. Hundreds of bicycles, fans and school uniforms were placed in another corner of the temple. They were donated by followers and will be sent to people in need after the family said they would not take any gifts of money.
Free food and drinks, including oyster cake, rice, coconuts and other Thai dishes, were served at the temple to the followers and about 100 journalists. It was the temple's ritual to offer free food to followers who waited to see Chau for his advice.
Disciples said the temple would be closed for two weeks. It was unclear how it would operate after it reopened.