Kata Rocks
THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Login | Create Account | Search


Phuket Vegetarian Festival: A festival of fire, food and flesh

Phuket Vegetarian Festival: A festival of fire, food and flesh

The preliminary rituals for the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, also known as the “Nine Emperor Gods Festival”, begin today (Sept 30) – the last day of the eighth lunar month of the Chinese calendar.

Friday 30 September 2016, 12:00PM


In preparation for the festival, which starts tomorrow and runs for nine days (Oct 1-9), all 24 participating Chinese shrines will be consecrated, particularly the shrine’s kitchens which prepare vegetarian food for devotees throughout the festival.

During this time, demons, or orphaned souls, who have been won-over by a Taoist Master and are therefore able to take the first step on the ladder of merit leading to heaven, are symbolically released and are said to protect the community for the duration of the festival.

Following this, a lantern-pole raising ritual will take place at each shrine. The lantern poles feature nine oil lanterns, symbolizing the Nine Emperor Gods, who are said to descend down the poles into the shrines at midnight, marking the start of the festival on Oct 1.

The Vegetarian Festival is based on Chinese Taoist beliefs, but also incorporates Buddhist elements, and participants were originally from Phuket’s Thai-Chinese community which makes up around 30 per cent of the population, but these days, it is very much an event which the whole of Phuket celebrates

During the festival participants dress in white to symbolize purity and adhere to a strict vegan diet to cleanse their bodies. Other rules for the festival include maintaining virtuous behaviour, imbibing no alcohol or drugs and people who are in a state of mourning, pregnant or menstruating are prohibited from taking part in the festival.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the festival is the numerous street processions conducted daily by the different shrines. These processions offer an opportunity for the general public, who line the streets during the processions, to receive the blessings of the gods possessing the spirit mediums or Ma Song.

BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET

The Ma Song – those who will allow spirits to possess them, mortal mediums – are famous for their gruesome displays of flagellating their flesh with axes or maces and inserting a variety of artefacts, such as knives, skewers and even guns through cuts in their cheeks or hanging them by hooks from the chests or backs. Ma Song claim to feel no pain during these acts and say that the gods that inhabit their bodies protect them from harm.

Other spectacular displays by devotees of the Nine Emperor Gods include fire-walking, bladed-ladder climbing, hot oil bathing and “nail-bridge crossing”, which will take place at various shrines across the island during the festival.

The last ceremony of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival (Oct 9) is certainly the most impressive. Between 9pm and midnight, all shrines join a street procession from Phuket Town to the sea at Saphan Hin to farewell the Nine Emperor Gods as they re-ascend to heaven.

So if this is your first time in Phuket during the festival, make sure you take the opportunity to witness this ancient tradition which is a unique and spectacular example of Phuket’s rich culture and history.

For a full account of the festival’s history and symbolic meaning, as well as the program of processions and ceremonies visit: www.phuketvegetarian.com

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.

CAPTCHA

Christy Sweet | 01 October 2016 - 08:28:07

Attention: You are approaching a bodily fluid spray zone. Please wear a full-body condom or risk myriad communicable pathogen. 
I suggest a new name for this festival; The Look At Me, Look At Me, LOOK AT MEEEEEEEE Fest- A Celebration of The Immature Male Ego.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Retirement in Thailand… Too naive?

Again.......it is ONLY holders on Non-Imm O-A visas that are affected. Extensions on this visa ONLY ...(Read More)


Retirement in Thailand… Too naive?

I don't need the useless expensive insurance, I have annual travel insurance that covers 60 day ...(Read More)


Phuket airport taxi driver in deadly wipeout to finally hear judgment

"Stunning" that the lead investigating officer would lie about this taxi drivers' iden...(Read More)


Retirement in Thailand… Too naive?

I find the people just as callous, uncaring and void of compassion as their xenophobic govt. But I&#...(Read More)


Celebrate the Melbourne Cup in style at the Angsana Ballroom

NBC Australia has just aired an expose on the horrific cruelties and slaughter pipeline that horse r...(Read More)


Phuket hotels slash prices, brace for rare slump

Don't think the Indian market will save use. They might come, but they don't spend anything ...(Read More)


Phuket Governor inspects sites for proposed convention centre, sports complex

Another tip for Phuket Governor. Inspect the remaining empty Chalong hospital. So far a waste of m...(Read More)


Korean and diving instructor drown in Phuket

If the boat boy witness what was happening below surface than dive instructor + trainee were not ver...(Read More)