23 October of every year is a national holiday in Thailand. The public holiday commemorates one of Thailand’s most revered kings, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), who passed away on October 23rd 1910.
King Chulalongkorn led several major reforms in Thailand, for example in the areas of Thai educational system, military affairs, State Railway and Slave Liberation Act without bloodshed in Thailand.
The King modernized government and streamlined the administration of the country by dividing it into provinces and districts. He abolished slavery and replaced the traditional lunar calendar with the Western calendar. Siam was a Buddhist country but he made it clear that other religions (including Islam and Christianity) should have the freedom to practise without fear of persecution. Communications in the country were improved greatly with the introduction of postal services, the telegraph and the construction of Thailand’s first railway (from Bangkok to Ayutthaya).
Many Thais show their respects for the great monarch by placing wreaths at the Equestrian Statue, in the Royal Plaza, Dusit District, on this public holiday. Much of this part of Bangkok was originally built during the reign of King Chulalongkorn and bears the architectural mix of Thai and European styles characteristic of the era.
Besides the Royal Plaza, all other statues of King Chulalongkorn all around the Kingdom of Thailand see smaller scaled ceremonies. Most businesses function as usual but Government organizations are closed on this day.