At 5pm over a thousand devotees, residents, and tourists dressed in white gathered at Jui Tui Shrine on Ranong Rd in Phuket town to participate in the raising of the Lantern Pole after it had been affixed with gold leaves.
Phuket’s new Governor Chockchai Dejamornthan, who arrived on the island at noon, presided over the lantern-pole raising ritual at Jui Tui Shrine where Mah Song (spirit mediums) mortified their flesh with axes, maces, and a variety of artifacts inserted through cuts in their cheeks or hung by hooks from the chests or backs.
Over the coming nine days the island will see scores of parades where a huge amount of firecrackers will be lit to welcome the Gods. Highlights of what is undoubtedly Phuket’s most unique festival include fire-walking, climbing on bladed ladders, and bizarre acts of disfigurement such as the piercing of faces and bodies with sharp objects.
The street processions, which begin tomorrow and continue throughout the festival, also bring traffic to a standstill for unsuspecting motorists as devotees parade along the streets of Phuket.
The first street procession will be tomorrow, October 2, at Choor Su Gong Naka Shrine in Wichit. The parade participants will begin to gather as early as 7am at Naka shrine and at 8am will start the procession which will pass Chao Fa Variety market to Phoonpol Rd before turning right onto Rattankosin 200 Pi and continue to at Saphan Hin.