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Royal astrologer casts Thai king's horoscope ahead of coronation


By Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panarat Thepgumpanat

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's royal astrologer cast King Maha Vajiralongkorn's horoscope on Tuesday in an important ritual to prepare for his elaborate coronation ceremonies next week.

Saffron-clad Buddhist monks chanted as the horoscope for the king's reign was cast on a golden plaque.

The three-hour ceremony included the inscription of the king's name and new royal title on another golden plaque, and the carving of the king's official seal.

Thai culture is steeped in astrology and other forms of divination, and many Thais go to fortune-tellers for everything from guidance on career and love to setting dates for important life events like weddings and business ventures.

Astrology in the royal court, involving rigid rituals and precise calculations, is a world away from commoners' divinations.

Court astrologers traditionally make predictions about the future at every important transition in the nation's history.

Court astrologer Chatchai Pinngern cast the horoscope of King Maha Vajiralongkorn in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is attached to the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Neither the horoscope, which notes planetary alignments based on precise details around a person's birth, nor its interpretation were made public.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 66, was not present for the ceremony but sent a royal representative.

The ceremony also saw the inscription of the king's new name and title on another golden plate, and an engraving of his royal seal which is an auspicious symbol that is said to show the sovereignty and the majesty of the king.

The royal horoscope and the other two items will play essential roles in Vajiralongkorn's main coronation events on May 4, as they will be presented to the king by Thailand's chief of Brahmins, along with other royal regalia.

The coronation ceremonies from May 4 to 6 will be the first the country has seen since Vajiralongkorn's father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was crowned on May 5, 1950.

King Bhumibol reigned for seven decades before he died in October 2016 at age 88.

(Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Panarat Thepgumpanat; editing by Kay Johnson and Darren Schuettler)

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