Devotees yesterday conducted a ceremony at Queen Sirikit Park to invite the Chinese god Por Tor Gong into a sacred vessel which was then carried to the fresh market on Ranong Rd, in the heart of Phuket Town.
Joining the parade were people dressed in local Thai-Chinese garments and children carrying their gifts they had created themselves to offer to the gods for appeasement as part of the festival.
“The Por Tor Festival helps to preserve the beautiful cultural traditions of Thai -Chinese local residents and pass on the practice to their younger generations. Event organizers aim to educate tourists both Thais and foreigners about our culture and beliefs and to boost tourism for Phuket Town,” said Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana.
The festival, which is also celebrated as the “Hungry Ghost” festival elsewhere throughout Asia, upholds the age-old practice of Chinese people making merit for their ancestors, as a tradition of gratitude.
The festival commences every year from the waxing moon of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar. This year the festival began on August 15 and is will conclude on August 31.
It is believed that at this time each year the gates of hell open and ancestral ghosts escape, with the chance to visit their descendants and enjoy a feast.
In Phuket, festival activities are centred around Bang Neow Shrine in Phuket Town, which is dedicated to the god Por Tor, the king of hell. Por Tor is one god not to be trifled with – above the entrance to Seng Tek Bel Shrine, also known as Por Tor Kong Shrine, located next to Baan Bang Neow School , are panels depicting some gruesome punishments handed out by Por Tor to those souls judged to be worthy of such suffering.
Also, those expecting a visit from a hungry ancestor respectfully set up tables full of food, and especially Ang Ku turtle-shaped cakes, in their homes in the hopes of appeasing the gods.
“A big parade is also scheduled for this Sunday, from Queen Sirikit Park to Bang Niew Shrine, starting at 5:30pm. Motorists should avoid the area during the hour of the parade,” cautioned Mayor Somjai.
The parade on Sunday will traverse as follows:
- Start at Queen Sirikit Park on Thalang Rd
- Turn left onto Thepkrasattri Rd and continue into Phuket Rd
- Pass Surin Circle and turn right onto Kra Rd
- Turn left onto Takua Thung Rd and conclude at Seng Tek Bel Shrine (Por Tor Kong Shrine), next to Bann Bang Neow School
Activities celebrating the Por Tor festival in Phuket are being held as follows:
- Aug 15-22 – Thaihua Museum on Krabi Rd
- Aug 17 – Joor Shu Kong Shrine at Surin Circle
- Aug 17-31 – Por Tor Kong Shrine (Bang Niew)
- Aug 18 – Joh Ong Shrine, Krabi Rd
- Aug 19-20 – Fresh market on Ranong Rd
- Aug 23 – Por Tor Ao Khaer Shrine on Takua Pa Rd