Photo courtesy of Reuters, EPA photos. Bangkok Thai Thailand culture world diversity tattoofestival

Believers Get Sacred Tattoos At Bangkok's Mystical Tattoo Festival

Every year, thousands of believers flock Bang Phra temple in Nakhon Pathom province to acquire tattoos they believe will give them strength.

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In a state of trance, thousands of tattooed devotees who are believed to be possessed by the creatures that are inked on them flock on the grounds of Bang Phra temple. Some crawl, jump and growl while others chant, bow their heads and are lost in the magical powers of their beliefs.

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Bangkok's Mystical Tattoo Festival. Photo courtesy of Reuters, EPA photos. Bangkok Thai Thailand culture world diversity tattoofestival
Bangkok's Mystical Tattoo Festival. Photo courtesy of Reuters, EPA photos. #Bangkok #Thai #Thailand #culture #world #diversity #tattoofestival

Once in a year, believers from across Thailand gather in this temple in Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok for the Magic Tattoo Festival. This is to honor Buddhist monk Luang Phor Phern, the temple's late abbot, and a renowned Sak Yant tattoo master.

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The annual ceremony is believed to bestow mystical powers through the art of sacred inking. 

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Photo courtesy of Reuters, EPA photos. Bangkok Thai Thailand culture world diversity tattoofestival
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Sak Yant tattoo is common in Southeast Asia and is distinct for its monochromic and geometric patterns, passages from religious classics, and animal images. Only Sak Yant masters can perform this tattoo. They mix snake venom, herbs and cigarette ash into the ink they use.

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This tattoo is believed to give its bearers holy powers which protects them from evil. However, it won't work if they don't obey certain rules – not to drink, steal, kill and perform sexual misconduct. If a devotee missed in any of these, he needs to be at the festival to renew its power.

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Bangkok's Mystical Tattoo Festival. Photo courtesy of Reuters, EPA photos. Bangkok Thai Thailand culture world diversity tattoofestival
Bangkok's Mystical Tattoo Festival. Photo courtesy of Reuters, EPA photos. #Bangkok #Thai #Thailand #culture #world #diversity #tattoofestival

The annual rite commences at exactly 9.39 in the morning. It's date varies from year to year but should be in early March and on a Saturday.

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Photo courtesy of Reuters, EPA photos. Bangkok Thai Thailand culture world diversity tattoofestival
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Find more about Bangkok's mystical tattoo festival here.

Xavier

@Xavier

When she's not writing for Tattoodo, Xavier likes experimenting with art and organizing local music shows. We're kidding, she's probably asleep. Follow her on Instagram @claudia_strife

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