Phuket Vegetarian Festival

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The town of Phuket in southern Thailand annually hosts the world’s largest and longest running vegetarian festival. The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is an annual event held over a nine day period in late September/early October. The Vegetarian Festival celebrates the Chinese community’s belief that abstaining from eating meat and consuming various other stimulants during the month they will obtain good health and peace of mind.

 

Self mutilation acts are common place.

Self mutilation acts are common place.

Ceremonies held during the Vegetarian Festival

One of the most exciting aspects of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival is the various ceremonies which are held throughout the island. Many of the religious devotees will slash themselves with swords, pierce their cheeks with sharp objects and commit other painful acts. It is believed that the Chinese gods will protect such persons from harm, and little blood or scarring results from such mutilation acts. This is definitely not recommended for the feint hearted to witness.

 

Definitely not recommended for the feint hearted

Definitely not recommended for the feint hearted

 

The ceremonies take place in the vicinity of the six Chinese temples scattered throughout Phuket. The main temple is Jui Tui Shrine not far from the Fresh Market in Phuket Town. The first event is the raising of the Lantern Pole, an act that notifies the nine Chinese gods that the festival is about to begin. The pole is at least ten metres tall and once erected, celebrants believe that the Hindu god, Shiva, descends bringing spiritual power to the event.

 

Fire walking

Fire walking

Vegetarian Festival Rules

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival always falls on the first days of the ninth Chinese lunar month, and for nine days those participating in the festival must observe the following rules:

  • Cleanliness of the body during the festival
  • Clean kitchen utensils not to be used by others who do not participate in the festival
  • Wear white during the festival
  • Behave physically and mentally
  • Abstain from eating all kinds of meat
  • Abstain from any flirting or sexual activity.
  • Avoid alcohol
  • People in mourning should not participate
  • Pregnant women and menstruating women should not attend ceremonies

Sacred rituals are performed at various Chinese shrines and temples and aesthetic displays such as fire walking and ascending ladders with bladed rungs are performed by entranced devotees known as “Ma Song”.

 

The 2013 Phuket Vegetarian Festival will probably be held from 4th October til 14th October 2013 (To be confirmed)

Have you been to a Phuket Vegetarian Festival? Why not write a review and share your experiences below!

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Updated: May 26, 2013 by admin