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Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2022

(Vegetarian Festival)

I am fortunate to live in Phuket and one of my years highlights as a photographer is the Festival of the Nine Emperor Gods! Here not only can I participate in such a stunning public spectacle by being blessed by those "carrying" the spirits of the Gods inside them, but I get a great position in the parade en route.

Nine Emperor Gods Festival takes place in Phuket old town on the first nine days of the ninth Chinese month.

Its dates vary in the Gregorian calendar, but usually it falls around October. although if I remember rightly this one fell at the end of September.

The festival is extremely striking and exotic, with hundreds of spirit mediums competing in their efforts to mutilate themselves for the gods.

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is a colourful annual event held on the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, usually in September or October. The festival celebrates the Chinese community's belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants will help them obtain good health and peace of mind.

The festival is famous for its 'extreme' celebrations. These include acts that invoke the gods, from firewalking to body piercing. Acts of self-mortification are undertaken by participants who act as mediums of the gods. These have become more spectacular and daring as each year goes by.

While the origins of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival are unclear, it is commonly thought that it was brought to the island by a wandering Chinese opera group that fell ill from a malaria epidemic. One of the performers was sent to China to invite the Nine Emperor Gods (known as the Kiu Ong Iah) to Phuket.

The Chinese followed the tradition of refraining from eating meat, drinking alcoholic drinks, engaging in sex, quarrelling, telling lies or killing. This was to ensure the purification of the mind and body. The opera group made a complete recovery and the epidemic ceased. Since then, the people of Phuket have continued to celebrate the festival.

The festival was meant to honour the gods and express the people's happiness at surviving what was, in the 19th century, a fatal illness. Subsequently, the festival has grown and developed into a spectacular yearly event in Phuket. It draws thousands of visitors each year, many of whom come from China and Asian destinations.

For the next few days, the local Chinese/Thai community brings their household gods to the temple, along with offerings of food and drink. It is assumed that the household gods will benefit from an annual injection of spiritual energy that fills the temple. You can observe and even participate in the lighting of joss sticks and candles, before placing them around the various gods.

Street processions often involve participants walking in a trance, running across a bed of burning coals, and climbing an 8-metre ladder of sharp blades. Apart from the visual spectacle of this festival, you can partake in vegetarian dishes, which are sold at street stalls and markets around the island.

Many of these vegetarian dishes aren't easily distinguishable from regular Thai dishes. Soybean and protein substitute products are used to replace pork, chicken or fish – they even look and taste exactly like meat. Look for yellow flags with red Chinese or Thai characters to find vegetarian food stalls.

The often-gruesome ceremonies during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival are definitely not recommended for the faint-hearted. Men and women puncture their cheeks with sharp items, including knives and skewers. It's believed that the Chinese gods will protect them from harm, resulting in little blood or scarring.

Even so, most injuries are usually sustained from the indiscriminate use of firecrackers. It's a good idea to stay well away from this deafening and sometimes frightening aspect of the Vegetarian Festival.

The ceremonies take place in the vicinity of 6 Chinese temples in Phuket. The main temple is Jui Tui Shrine in Phuket Town. The first event is called the Raising of the Lantern Pole, which notifies the 9 Chinese gods of the start of the festival. Once the 10-metre-tall pole is erected, celebrants believe that the Hindu god, Shiva, descends to bring spiritual power to the event.
These photos are from the Guan Nabon Shrine/Temple in Chalong near to where I live.

Posted by TheJohnsons 04:50 Archived in Thailand Tagged ##thailand ##culture ##tourism ##background ##phuket ##vegetarian ##chinese ##traditional ##festival ##china ##asia ##asian ##celebration ##thai ##vegetable ##red ##religion ##yellow ##vegan ##flag ##food ##symbol ##east ##buddhist ##illustration ##event

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