THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Phuket Opinion: A question of faith

PHUKET: The annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival drew a close at midnight on Wednesday (Oct 17) as plumes of smoke from the traditional bonfire at Saphan Hin, home of the Kua Tian Keng Shrine, billowed into the night sky, along with thousands of prayer notes set alight to join devotees’ ancestors in the heavens.

opinionculturetourism
By The Phuket News

Sunday 21 October 2018, 09:00AM


A Mah Song takes part in a street procession during this year’s Phuket Vegetarian festival. Photo: The Phuket News

A Mah Song takes part in a street procession during this year’s Phuket Vegetarian festival. Photo: The Phuket News

 

The festival finale drew to a close nine days of honouring the Jade Emperor and the Nine Emperor Gods, but this year there was a marked difference – the lack of tourists lining the streets present to witness the spectacle.

The festival has always been an attraction for ethnic Chinese in the region – from mainland China but especially the Baba Nyonya or ‘Peranakan’ Straits Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore. Also, for years the festival also drew travellers from around the world who had seen photos of the Mah Song and their incredible range of facial piercings and read the reports that inspired them to come see the festival for themselves.

This year, however, the numbers didn’t come.

In numbers, five years ago (in 2013), 26.56 million tourists came to Thailand. Last year it was 35.38mn. This year, including the ‘plunge’, the country is still on track to host at least some 32mn tourists.

So it’s not the numbers, it’s the lack of interest. The plethora of smaller ‘village vegetarian festivals’ now held around the country – and those held in Bangkok – during the same nine days may account for poor turnout, and at some point all major tourism locales around the world suffer ‘destination fatigue’, but the ominous lack of tourists at this year’s Vegetarian Festival is foreboding.

What has grown over the same time is the number of comments and feedback branding the festival as non-genuine, nothing more than a spectacle put on to draw tourists to the island.

The Phuket News will not question the sincerity of the devotees who take part in the festival. It is a matter of belief and a form of local culture. That is for each person to decide for him or herself. But what has been put forward as plain evidence of the showmanship are the facial piercings using beach umbrellas, spanners, six-shooter revolvers and all sorts of ‘non-traditional’ items.

The Phuket News urges the people involved in Vegetarian Festival to reflect on the effect this might be having, and perhaps give the festival a chance to get back to its roots.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Rorri_2 | 21 October 2018 - 15:04:15

Well said, as most of us intelligent people know.. however, some choose not to understand the origins of the festival.

Kurt | 21 October 2018 - 11:34:16

A great PN Reflection.  Now a reality reflection of the festival organisers.  Indeed, back to the roots!

By the way, is there any news about the Phoenix salvage attempt?

Mr Richie | 21 October 2018 - 09:22:31

as soon as the eastern block tourists came in the western block left in droves? ask the local Thai's which ones that they prefered even I know the answer I have been coming to Phuket for the last 14 years we all know what's wrong with Phuket that we love,I will still keep coming because I love it just a shame the crap that is allowed in. 

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Premchai jailed for 16 months, not guilty of black leopard charge

"The court later released him and Yong on bail of B400,000 baht, and Thanee on B500,000, and pr...(Read More)


Two banned trucks hit two motorbikes on same day, same road

Why is the truck on the wrong side of the road, and what part of the accident involved the pickup?...(Read More)


Premchai jailed for 16 months, not guilty of black leopard charge

Premchai's been released on bail. Does this mean he has a suspended sentence or that his appeal ...(Read More)


Premchai jailed for 16 months, not guilty of black leopard charge

So, just the 1000 dollar question, who did kill the black leopard? Don't tell me that one of the...(Read More)


Premchai jailed for 16 months, not guilty of black leopard charge

"How long is the old poor Thai couple.." Try to google it or sent a petition and ask for a...(Read More)


New Zealand mosque attack suspect charged with murder

"addicted to psychotropic drugs" Would that be an excuse for his doings. Surprised that se...(Read More)


Two banned trucks hit two motorbikes on same day, same road

"Where has the reader been the last decades" and what country is suspending a license for ...(Read More)


Premchai jailed for 16 months, not guilty of black leopard charge

For how long is the old poor Thai couple in jail for plucking mushrooms in a national park?? How is...(Read More)


Two banned trucks hit two motorbikes on same day, same road

ok the truck should not have been there, but the motorbike was apparently overtaking over a double y...(Read More)


Two banned trucks hit two motorbikes on same day, same road

One wonders who the real troll is... . I use the road on a regular basis and it IS dangerous if one ...(Read More)