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Thai king to pay respect to Buddha image, light auspicious candle on eve of coronation

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This handout from the Thai Royal Household Bureau taken and released on May 3, 2019 shows the ceremony in which the Royal Golden Plaque of the official title of His Majesty the King, the Royal Golden Plaque of His Majesty’s horoscope, and the Royal Seal of State are transferred from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to Baisal Daksin Throne Hall in Bangkok.

[BANGKOK] King Maha Vajiralongkorn is to pay his respects on Friday to one of Thai Buddhism's most sacred relics, the Emerald Buddha, and later light an auspicious candle as he conducts the final rituals before his three days of coronation events.

The coronation, which takes place from Saturday to Monday, will be the first the country has seen in 69 years, since his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was crowned in 1950.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 66, is also known by the title of King Rama X. He became a constitutional monarch after the death of his revered father in October 2016, after 70 years on the throne.

On Friday, the king will first visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to pay respect to the Buddha image, one of Thailand's most sacred relics, before moving to the Grand Palace.

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There, he will light the auspicious candle at 4:19 p.m. (9:19 GMT) - a time that court astrologers determined was propitious - while 80 Buddhist monks chant.

Earlier on Friday, a senior palace official transferred a golden plaque with the king's official name and title, the king's horoscope and the royal seal from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to the Grand Palace in preparation for Saturday's event.

The three items, which were made in a three-hour ritual last week, will be presented to the king on Saturday by the chief Brahmin, along with five royal regalia, the symbols of kingship in Thailand.

Ahead of the grand ceremonies, the king said he would grant royal pardons to some prisoners to "give them a chance to become good citizens", according to the Royal Gazette on Friday.

The document, which will take effect on Saturday, listed many criteria for prisoners who are eligible for the pardon, including those with disabilities, chronic or terminal diseases, or those with one year left to serve.

The king will also reduce sentences for some prisoners, including those imprisoned for life, and commute inmates' death sentences to life.

It is not yet clear how many people will qualify for the pardons.

REUTERS