Shocking Thai traditions of the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket
Experienced travellers say that no carnival in Brazil or Spanish tomato fight Tomatina can be compared with Thai Vegetarian festival. Every autumn it takes place in Phuket. It starts on the first day of the 9th lunar month by Chinese calendar and lasts 9 days. Usually it’s in the end of September or in October...
Experienced travellers say that no carnival in Brazil or Spanish tomato fight Tomatina can be compared with Thai Vegetarian festival. Every autumn it takes place in Phuket. It starts on the first day of the 9th lunar month by Chinese calendar and lasts 9 days. Usually it’s in the end of September or in October. All this time the locals have to keep to a strict vegetarian diet.
This carnival is so popular because of its street events, where the participants demonstrate incredible things – making real holes in their cheeks, tongue, walking on hot ashes, blades or sharp pieces of broken glass. And the show doesn’t end with just making holes in their body parts. After this, they put different objects inside these holes – from knives and arrows to bicycle frames, tree branches, and a bundle of knives at the same time. The objects of torture are extracted after the festival is finished and stored like artifacts.
Why do they do it?
The participants of this festival truly believe that torturing their bodies helps to purify their spirit, and the more they torture their bodies, the better it is for their soul. This is why there are so many people, who are eager to torture themselves in a hope to get an eternal life. The scars people have after this festival are a thing to be proud of and are considered to be a totem, which protects their owners from all misfortunes.
Some of the participants of the festival fall in the state of religious trance. Their bodies bleed, and this is a horrible sight. Tourists cannot believe that such cruel things may occur in the 21st century. We truly advise not to visit the festival if you cannot stand such brutal scenes. Also, take care about your kids and their psychological state.
The origins of the festival
The festival is dedicated to 9 gods of the Old China. The locals are truly afraid of them, and, according to the legend, one day these gods have become furious, and sent a horrible disease to the island. It could be stopped only with a long fast and by following the 10 commandments. The inhabitants of the island are afraid that the story can be repeated, and for almost 200 years they carry out this festival, demonstrating affection to gods, being moderate in eating, and showing the readiness to torture themselves in the name of gods.
The other name of the holiday is a Festival of the Nine Emperors.
Festival in details
It is considered that in the first days of the 9th lunar month all 9 gods go down on the earth, and the first 2 days are dedicated to praying them. The locals often fall in the state of a religious trance, remembering nothing after the event. It is believed that gods go down to the earth near the water, the carnival events start next to the nearest water reservoir, and are held throughout all week.
Evil spirits, who can come to visit the event are repelled with the sounds of petards and drums. Blowing the petards can cause a lot of smoke, and it is recommended to use masks to protect yourself from it. All locals go down to water, but surely not all of them torture themselves. This is a privilege of gods’ warriors – ma songs, who have been fasting, refusing themselves in all body pleasures, including alcohol. The others just decorate the altars with the images of the 9 gods, make tables with presents for the participants of the festival next to their houses, and ask the warriors to bless them. All participants of the festival are supposed to be dressed in white. The venues of the festival are full with vegetarian food, and we assure you – it’s delicious, and you can find anything you need at any taste.
The festival takes place in several cities of Thailand at the same time, and the bigger the city, the more pompous this holiday is. The brightest events take place in Phuket, in Patong, and Katu. The vegetarian festival in Thailand lasts more than a week, so you can see its events in several cities in a course of a few days. The events are easy to find – they take place near the temples before noon. Historically, the first festival was carried out near the temple in Katu, and this is the place where the most tourists come. The time of the festival is low season, and flights and tours can be booked at very reasonable prices. Are you up for it?