Phuket Vegetarian Festival, Thailand

A vegetarian festival. It sounds so, well, wholesome and harmless doesn’t it? So you probably wouldn’t expect to see scores of people slicing their cheeks open and ramming spikes, knives, axes, shovels, umbrellas, pineapples or even machine guns through the hole.

Not to mention walking over hot coals, climbing bladed ladders or soaking in hot oil. It’s enough to leave the most iron-bellied tourists feeling faintly nauseous.

All this self-mortification is of course, all about cleansing the body, and the festival is a time of abstinence, clean living and healthy eating. Hence the amazing variety of delicious vegetarian food on offer, and not a scrap of meat (besides human flesh) in sight.

The festival originates from China, but migrated here with a travelling troupe of opera singers. The troupe miraculously recovered from illness and attributed their recuperation to their vegetarian diet and faith – greatly impressing locals.

The Festival, which is called Prapheni Kin Jay in Thai, takes place between September 27 and October 5 2011. That is, the first nine days of the ninth lunar month. The action centres on the Jui Tui Shrine, in Phuket Town.

One word of warning though: menstruating or pregnant women are unwelcome. You’re impure apparently!

Written by - Photo by Electrostatico

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