Cambodians lined the banks of the Mekong River on Tuesday as the ashes of their revered former King Norodom Sihanouk were lowered into the murky water a day after his cremation in Phnom Penh.
Several white sacks containing the ashes, including the pyre, were ferried on an ornate barge to the confluence of the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Tonle Bassac rivers in Phnom Penh, where members of the royal family lowered them into the water.
In a sombre televised ceremony earlier, mourners led by Sihanouk's widow Monique and his son -- current King Norodom Sihamoni, picked out some of the ex-king's blackened bones from the crematorium to be kept in an urn at the royal palace.
The bones, which were washed in coconut juice and water from a sacred mountain, will be taken to the palace on Thursday when the week-long funeral ends, a palace official told AFP, requesting anonymity.
"The royal urn containing the King-Father's remains will be kept in the Kantha Bopha stupa," the official said, referring to Sihanouk's favourite daughter who died aged three and whose remains are also at the palace.
After chanting by monks and mourners passed around candles, Sihamoni and his mother led royal family members and government officials -- including Prime Minister Hun Sen -- to pick out the bones for use as relics.
Sihanouk died of a heart attack in Beijing in October, aged 89. His embalmed body had been lying in state since then at the royal palace.
His cremation was part of a days-long funeral, which started with a lavish procession through the streets of Phnom Penh on Friday.
On Monday smoke rose from the crematory marking the cremation in an elaborate pagoda-like structure built specially for the occasion.
A 101-gun salute also echoed in the night and fireworks burst over the city.
A father of 14 children over six marriages, Sihanouk abdicated in 2004 after steering Cambodia through six decades marked by independence from France, civil war, the murderous Khmer Rouge regime, his own exile and finally peace.
But even though the ever-changeable monarch had allied himself with the Maoist movement, Sihanouk -- a self-confessed "naughty boy" who loved to direct films, write poetry and compose songs -- remained hugely popular.
Many elderly Cambodians credit him with overseeing a rare period of political stability in the 1950s and 1960s, following independence, until the Khmer Rouge emerged in the 1970s.