The Vegetarian Festival
Ever heard of the Vegetarian Festival in Thailand? It is a colorful event that takes place in Phuket every year over a period of about nine days during the month of October. According to the Chinese calendar, the event takes place on the ninth lunar of the month. The festival is celebrated in six temples around Phuket with Jui Tui Shrine as the main venue, which is just next to the market of Phuket town.
Activities Carried Out
The festival starts by raising a ten-meter pole that acts as a notification to the nine gods about the onset of the ceremonies. Those who participate in the celebrations believe that when the pole is erected, the Hindu god named Shiva brings spiritual power to the ceremony. Some will term the festival as “bloody” and associate it with people walking on fire without being burned and driving sharp swords and knives through their cheeks as a way of purifying themselves. Participants also believe to have acquired special powers from the spirits. They skew their faces and bodies with several implements like guns, garden umbrellas and guitars. Visitors can watch them or even participate in lighting candles placed on the various gods. The essence of this festival is to get rid of evil spirits hence bringing new fortunes. During the festive season, the celebrants are supposed to have a vegetarian diet. Pregnant women are considered impure and are not supposed to watch or even participate in the rituals. For more information, visit http://www.phuket.com/festival/vegetarian.htm.
History Behind the Phuket Vegetarian Festival
It is believed that about 150 years ago in Kathu district, Chinese tin miners settled in Phuket. During the lunar month, on the ninth to be specific, they hired a group of opera performers who entertained them and their families. At one time during this period, an epidemic disease hit Phuket that led to the loss of many lives, including the invited performers. They then realized that they had failed to pay homage to their nine gods for the preceding nine days of the month, so they sent the performers to invite Kiu Ong Lah to Phuket. The following year, they followed the tradition and refrained from engaging in sex, telling lies, drinking alcohol, and eating meat during the period. The disease vanished and since then, the ceremony is carried out every year in Phuket.
Tips to Follow for New Visitors
Accommodation -The festival attracts a good number of people. Consider booking a hotel in advance to avoid frustrations when you get there. Some of the best hotels you should consider booking in Phuket are Holiday Inn Phuket, Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort, and Dusit Thai Laguna.
Health – It is always advisable to consult your doctor before traveling and in case you need to take any vaccine, do it in advance.
Insurance – The place is not risky but having your insurance up to date is recommended. Accidents do happen and insurance plays an important role when it comes to treatment and compensation.