The procession left Kathu Shrine at 5am under the ‘new normal’ protocols this year by using vehicles instead of walking and with no face piercings.
Kathu Shrine is where the vegetarian festival was observed for the first time, in 1825. Over the past 196 years devotees at the shrine have adhered to the observing the original traditions of the festival.
The procession this morning continued along Wichit Songkhram Rd and past Surakul stadium into Phuket Town. Unlike days past, today saw many more people turn out along the streets to watch the procession, especially along Phang Nga Rd, Thalang Rd and in front of Lan Nawamin on Phuket Rd.
The devotees and Ma Song concluded the ‘last mile’ to Saphan Hin Public Park on foot.
Also conducting their street procession through Phuket Town this morning were devotees from the Yok Ke Keng Shrine on Soi Paniang, on the north side of Phuket Town.
Tomorrow (Oct 14), the last day of rituals and festivities for this year’s Vegetarian Festival, devotees from the Sui Bun Tong Shrine, also called the Lor Rong Shrine, will conduct their street procession through the heart of Phuket Town.
Tomorrow night, from 10pm to midnight, will be the final main ritual of the annual festival, held at Saphan Hin, where devotees from every shrine taking part in the festival will gather to perform blessing ceremonies to call the Jade Emperor and the Nine Emperor Gods to return to the heavens.
The final night of festivities traditionally sees bonfires of blessings written on blessed parchments set alight and dispatched to the heavens to the loud sounds of firecrackers being set off late into the night.
The festival will conclude more quietly on Friday (Oct 15), with participating shrines conducting ceremonies to lower the Go Teng poles, starting at 4pm.