MILLIONS of Thais nationwide wore yellow shirts yesterday as they joined various activities to mark the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whom they regard as the country's unifying figure and father.
Yellow is the traditional Thai colour for Monday, the day the King was born.
Avenues in the capital and main streets in the provinces were decorated with lights and festooned with the King's image.
On this auspicious day, Thais went to temples to make merit, give alms, donate money and items to the less privileged and carried out charitable acts in honour of the highly revered monarch.
In Kanchanaburi's Sangkhla Buri district, a village of 150 Karen sang a song specially written by a teacher in the Karen language to wish the King continued longevity and good health.
In Chiang Mai, more than 500 people donated blood at the Red Cross.
In Phetchaburi, revellers took free boat trips to catch a glimpse of bruda whales as part of the charitable "Boat for Dad" event.
In many provinces "Bike for Dad" T-shirts were handed out ahead of Friday's staging of the nationwide cycling event honouring the King.
At the Police General Hospital, five poor people were given renal replacement therapy for free to mark the day.
In Phitsanulok, more than 60 food stalls provided free vegetarian meals.
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn |yesterday led a number of religious and |royal ceremonies to mark the King's birthday. He will lead more than 600,000 people in |the "Bike for Dad" event next Friday (December 11).
A similar cycling event was held in August to honour Her Majesty the Queen's birthday.
The King did not make a public appearance on his birthday as he normally would. He was last seen in public on September 1. He cancelled a public appearance to mark his birthday last year on medical advice.
The King has spent the past few months at Siriraj Hospital, where he was treated for "water on the brain", or hydrocephalus, a build-up of cerebro-spinal fluid that surrounds the brain.
A large number of people gathered at the hospital yesterday to offer their good wishes to the King on his birthday. Many of them shouted "Long live the King" near the building where he now lives.
His Majesty is the third oldest monarch in the world, after Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who is 89 years old, and Malaysia's King Abdul Halim, who turned 88 last week.
The King's reign of 69 years is the longest for a living monarch, followed by Elizabeth II and Abdul Halim, who have ruled for 63 and 57 years respectively.