As part of the coronation of the new King of Thailand there is a housewarming ceremony in which a white rooster and a Siamese cat are placed on a pillow as you can see in the photograph.
You can tell from the photograph that the Siamese cat is a stuffed plush toy albeit a very good one (well at least it looks clear to me – the fixed, glazed stare). We don’t know whether the rooster is also a plush toy.
A Siamese cat breeder was asked to provide two male cats for the ceremony. They were to be specially selected for their gentle characters but they weren’t used. It must’ve been decided that to expect a domestic cat to be passive, indeed static, throughout the ceremony on a pillow was unrealistic and therefore they went for a stuffed toy.
The official reason as given by the cat breeder is as follows:
“I feel grateful for His Majesty’s kindness for feeling compassionate about the cats, fearing that the animal would suffer from waiting too long during ceremonies, so the cats were not used”.
Not everyone is as convinced as I am that the cat in the photograph is a stuffed toy. There is some chatter on Facebook enquiring as to whether the cat is real or fake. Sorry guys it’s fake! I wonder where they got it from. It is an interesting thought. I mean is it a standard plush toy (highly unlikely) or was it specially made (highly likely).
Note: Although the stuffed fake cat deflates the pomposity of the whole ceremony it’s not that important as it is symbolic.
The problem in Thailand for the citizens of that country is that the have to be extremely respectful of their king. The country has strict lese majeste laws. If you insult or in any way denigrate the king you can end up in jail for 15 years. The same applies to the queen or the heir-apparent.
A friend of mine at the gym that I go to has a Thai wife and he goes to Thailand quite a lot. He tells me that the new King is unpopular because he’s a playboy and I believe that he is about to marry or has married his fifth wife. He is 66 years of age. I saw a video of his wife to be grovelling on the ground keeping her head below his as he was seated while presenting him with a gift.
Many Thais believe that cats are lucky and that the tradition of giving one as a housewarming gift creates a stable and prosperous home. This appears to follow the Japanese culture with respect to the lucky cat a.k.a. the maneki-neko cat mascot.