Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew and a host of other high-ranking officials, including Phuket Town Mayor Somjai Suwansupana, joined a ceremony at Bang Neow Shrine at 5pm yesterday (Sept 6) to mark the launch of festivities.
The festival usually falls on the 15th day of the seventh waxing moon according to the Chinese calendar and Thai-Chinese people believe that the spirits of ancestors are released from hell to visit their relatives during this time, explained Mayor Somjai.
The Por Tor Festival is also called the Hungry Ghost Festival, as believers prepare food not only for their ancestors but also to nourish “lost souls’, spirits who have no living family to visit, she added.
To honour the occasion, celebrants make “red turtle” cakes called Ang Ku, which come in various sizes and are made from flour and sugar. The turtle cakes are central to the celebrations and form an important part of the offerings made to Por Tor and hungry ghosts. The turtle represents strength and longevity, while the colour red is associated with good luck.
“Festival activities are centred around Por Tor Kong Shrine in Phuket Town, which is dedicated to the god Por Tor – the King of Hell. The shrine features painted panels depicting some of the gruesome punishments handed down by Por Tor to those souls judged to be worthy of such suffering.
During the festival participants prepare various foods, carved fruits and colourful desserts to place at altars for the spirits of their ancestors.
Joining the festivities yesterday were participants at the Jor Ong Shrine in Talad Nuea.
Festivities at other participating locales and shrines in Phuket Town this year are as follows:
- Sept 7 – Thai Hua Museum on Krabi Rd
- Sept 7-8 – Fresh market on Ranong Rd
- Sept 6 -16 – Por Tor Kong Shrine, near Ban Bangneaw School on Phuket Rd