The Vegetarian Festival is increasingly popular, the spectacle attracting many locals and foreigners alike who want to experience the sights and sounds, incredibly special to Phuket people.
For a first time spectator of some of the acts of gore and blood, it is truly a marvel to see (albeit a shocking one) and it’s unlikely you’ve seen such unusual displays of religion before.
This week in our Phuket Focus, reporter Naraporn Tuarob speaks to several locals closely connected to the festival, and discovers that some think the event has become too commercial, with the body piercings by the Mah Song becoming more extreme.
Are they? You be the judge. But whatever the case, the unusual piercings are a sight to behold.
This year there are considerably more foreigners attending the famous street processions, perhaps a sign of the times in terms of overall visitor numbers to the island, and the development of the Chinese, Russian and South Korean tourism markets, but also due to better marketing.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (Phuket branch) has created a very foreigner-friendly guide to this year’s Vegetarian Festival, all written in English with in-depth information, background, and more importantly, a pretty accurate idea as to the times and locations of all the street processions.
In a country where such detailed event information is hard to come by, and if you do come across it is often incorrect, the TAT should be praised for producing this very useful guide. Staff at the office in Phuket Town have kindly allowed us to reproduce parts of it to include in this newspaper.
For those of you who perhaps hit snooze on the alarm this week, or haven’t got around to attending any events yet, make sure you don’t miss out. The final few days are always deemed the best, particularly the final night of the festival on Sunday, where all the street processions from the island’s shrines meet at Saphan Hin in an impressive display of fireworks and culture.
See you there?