Phuket Vegetarian Festival is a colorful event held over a 9-day period in October during the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar.
The festival celebrates the Chinese belief that abstinence from meat & various stimulants will help the participants obtain good health, a clean spirit & peace of mind.
There are fascinating (some say scary) scenes paraded in the streets such as firewalking, extreme body piercing, participants walking in a trance, climbing a ladder of sharp blades and other acts of self-mutilation.
The thought of it alone is gut-wrenching. Luckily, there are food stalls all over the island offering Phuket's best vegetarian dishes to comfort your shock. That is, if you can still eat!
Men & Women puncture their cheeks with various objects from small metal skewers to large bicycles!
Spirit Mediums, also known as the "Mah Song" or "Horses of the Gods" pierce their cheeks with various implements as a way to absorb bad energy and to help the people by freeing them of bad karma, illness or sorrow.
These are done while in an altered state where they claim to feel no pain.
The festival always falls on the 1st day of the 9th Chinese lunar month. For 9 days they observe the following commitments:
COMMITMENTS: 1. Body should be clean during the festival, 2. Clean kitchen utensils are not to be used by non-participants of the festival, 3. One should wear white during the festival. 4. One should behave correctly (physically & mentally), 5. Avoid eating meat. 6. Avoid Sex. 7. Avoid Alcohol 8. Mourning people should not participate and 9. Pregnant & menstruating women should not attend the festival.
Chinese shrines in Phuket Town: There are over 40 shrines around the island but visitors who wish to experience the most of this event should visit the 5 oldest shrines in Phuket namely the 1. Put Jaw 2. Jui Tui 3.Bang Niew 4. Cherng Talay and 5.Kathu
This tradition is old, respected, and elders partake in it.
And women too! Wow. That's one tough lady.
Sometimes things are difficult to reason out. So remember not to hate what you don't understand. Educate yourselves, respect and help preserve the culture! Such a crazy colorful world we live in.