Phuket ramping up for Vegetarian Festival 2016

The Tourism Authority Of Thailand (TAT) Phuket office has released its program of events for the annual Vegetarian Festival, to be held for the traditional nine days from Oct. 1 until Oct. 9.

Of course, the famous festival will be celebrated in Bangkok too, mostly in the Old Town near Yaowarat, but the most lavish of veggie spectacles is always in Phuket.

You can feast on delicious veggie food for nine days but, in Phuket, you can also check out the display of spirit mediums, or Ma Song, putting knives through their faces and walking through fire or across nails to show their devotion.

The festival will begin in Phuket with the lantern-pole raising ritual on Sept. 30 at all 24 participating Chinese shrines in the late afternoon.

PHOTO ESSAY: Phuket celebrates Vegetarian Festival with blood, swords, and spirits

Every year the event attracts large crowds of residents and tourists, both domestic and foreign, and this year Phuket can again expect large turnouts for the festival.

“Just like every year, we expect to see huge crowds at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. I think the number this year will exceed last year,” said  TAT Phuket office Director Anoma Vongyai.

The most popular activities, and spectacles for tourists, include firewalking, bladed-ladder climbing, hot oil bathing and “nail bridge crossing,” performed by devotees at participating shrines across the island.

These activities start at Jui Tui Shrine in Phuket Town on Oct. 2, and continue across the island throughout the festival.

The last ceremony of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival is certainly the most impressive. Between 9pm and midnight, all shrines join a street procession in Phuket Town: the Nine Emperor Gods Farewell. Each shrine involved in the festival has an Emperor God. The latest procession aims to accompany them to Saphan Hin, from where they will leave Phuket.

The annual festival features popular processions organized by each participating shrine, with Ma Song parading the streets with a variety of implements impaled through their faces as testament to pain-enduring powers of the gods that occupy them.

Most shrines start their street processions relatively early in the morning. While tourists are welcome to line the streets to view the spectacle, motorists are urged to try to avoid the following areas, as this is the current list of scheduled street processions across the island.

Story: The Phuket News

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