Leading the opening ceremony at Phuket Thaihua Museum at 5pm yesterday was Wuttichai Saekam, who serves as an Adviser to Phuket Town Mayor Somjai Suwansupana. Joining Mr Wuttichai were Phuket City Municipality staff, local residents and members of Phuket’s Chinese community.
The Por Tor Festival traditionally falls on the 15th day of the seventh waxing moon on the Chinese calendar, and Thai-Chinese people believe that the spirits of ancestors are released from hell to visit their relatives during this period.
Thai-Chinese people usually decorate their houses and altars with offerings to appease the spirits of ancestors who may come to visit during the festival.
For “homeless” spirits, those spirits without descendants to visit, devotees arrange a set of food offerings and place at the back of their houses.
Offerings include a cup of tea, mixed snacks, Ang ku (red turtle cakes), Fa Gao (Chinese cupcakes), triangle-shaped sticky rice, fruit (usually pineapples, bananas and oranges or mandarins), desserts, a tipple of Chinese whiskey, and most importantly, one big red turtle-shaped cake.
As part of the festivities, to be honoured across Phuket from Aug 13-29, officials and school children dress up in traditional Chinese clothing and parade through Phuket Town.
This Saturday (Aug 17), people will gather at around midday at Queen Sirikit Park on Thalang Rd, from where they will parade along Phuket Rd and Rassada Rd through to the main festivities along Ranong Rd.
A big parade is scheduled to be held on Monday (Aug 19), from Queen Sirikit Park to Bang Neow Shrine on Phuket Rd at around 5:20pm.
Activities celebrating the Por Tor festival will be observed across Phuket as follows:
- Aug 13-20: Thaihua Museum on Krabi Rd
- Aug 15: Hok Nguan Kong Shrine, close to Surin Clock Tower roundabout
- Aug 16: Joh Ong Shrine, Krabi Rd
- Aug 17-18: Fresh market on Ranong Rd
- Aug 19-29: Bang Niew Shrine
- Aug 21: Ao Khaer Shrine on Takua Pa Rd
As is tradition, the annual festival will be full of ceremonies and performances of local entertainment, Phuket Town Mayor Somjai announced earlier this month.
The main festivities will be held on Aug 17-18 along the section of Ranong Rd from the Phuket City Municipality Fresh Market to the intersection in front of the Jui Tui Shrine, Mayor Somjai explained.
The schedule of events is as follows:
Saturday, August 17
1pm to 11pm: The third floor of the Fresh Market building will open for everyone to pay their respects to Por Tor Kong – the King of Hell. People will also see the red turtle cakes and foods, fruits and desserts prepared for the spirits. In the evening, there will be five stages attendees to choose for their amusement.
Stage 1, 6pm-11pm: Live performance by the ‘Star Dance’ band, turtle cake eating competition, games and contests
Stage 2, 8pm-midnight: Thai country music (Luk Thoong) concert featuring singer Sunaree Ratchasima.
Stage 3, 8:30pm-11pm: Nang Talung shadow-puppet play performed by Pratom Piboonsin team of artists
Stage 4, 8pm to midnight: Rong Ngeng traditional dance by national artist troupe
Stage 5, 8pm to midnight: Live band concert and movies to be shown on dual screens.
Sunday, August 18: Same entertainment as Aug 17, except for popular local singer Ko Khai to perform in concert on Stage 2 from 8pm-11pm.