Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival

Devotees-protect-themselves-as-firecrackers-explode-near-an-idol-they-carry-on-a-palanquin-during-a-street-procession-during-the-annual-Vegetarian-Festival-in-Phuket
Devotees protect themselves as firecrackers explode near an idol they carry on a palanquin during a street procession during the annual Vegetarian Festival in Phuket
  • Phuket Vegetarian Festival (Oct 12 – Oct 22) celebrates the beginning of Taoist Lent, when devout Chinese abstain from eating all meat and other vices. The festival takes place on the first 9 days of the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Everyone dresses in white and shopkeepers set up small alters with offerings of incense, flowers, candles, fruit, and 9 cups of tea to the 9 emperor deities honored by the festival. 

    Walking on fire or driving a brace of swords through cheeks are the height of religious devotion during Thailand's Vegetarian Festival in Phuket.
    Walking on fire or driving a brace of swords through cheeks are the height of religious devotion during Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival in Phuket.

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PHUKET, THAILAND - OCTOBER 10: Vegetarian festival devotees parade through the streets of downtown Phuket, Thailand on October 10, 2013. Ritual Vegetarianism in Phuket Island traces it roots back to the early 1800's. The festival begins on the first evening of the ninth lunar month and lasts for nine days. Participants in the festival perform acts of body piercing as a means of shifting evil spirits from individuals onto themselves and bring the community good luck. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
PHUKET, THAILAND: Vegetarian festival devotees parade through the streets of downtown Phuket, Thailand. Ritual Vegetarianism in Phuket Island traces it roots back to the early 1800’s. The festival begins on the first evening of the ninth lunar month and lasts for nine days. Participants in the festival perform acts of body piercing as a means of shifting evil spirits from individuals onto themselves and bring the community good luck.

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A devotee of the Chinese Kathu Shrine with horns pierced through his cheeks takes part in a street procession during the annual vegetarian festival in Phuket October 12, 2013. The festival, featuring face-piercing, spirit mediums and strict vegetarianism celebrates the local Chinese community's belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health and peace of mind. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha (THAILAND - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
A devotee of the Chinese Kathu Shrine with horns pierced through his cheeks takes part in a street procession during the annual vegetarian festival in Phuket. The festival, featuring face-piercing, spirit mediums and strict vegetarianism celebrates the local Chinese community’s belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health and peace of mind.

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ATTENTION EDITORS - GRAPHIC CONTENT A devotee of the Chinese Bang Neow Shrine with a sword pierced through his cheek takes part in a street procession during the annual vegetarian festival in Phuket October 10, 2013. The festival, featuring face-piercing, spirit mediums, and strict vegetarianism celebrates the local Chinese community's belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health and peace of mind. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha (THAILAND - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY) TEMPLATE OUT
A devotee of the Chinese Bang Neow Shrine with a sword pierced through his cheek takes part in a street procession during the annual vegetarian festival in Phuket. The festival, featuring face-piercing, spirit mediums, and strict vegetarianism celebrates the local Chinese community’s belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health and peace of mind.

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Thailand Vegetarian Festival in Phuket

Thailand Vegetarian Festival in Phuket

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The shopkeepers stand in prayer like fashion respecting the mediums that are temporarily possessed by the deity. The self torture is done to shift evil from individuals to the mediums and bring the community good luck.

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Female mediums in the Phuket Vegetarian Festival Street Procession, Phuket Town, Thailand. ** The Phuket Vegetarian Festival celebrates the beginning of Taoist Lent, when devout Chinese abstain from eating all meat and other vices. The festival takes place on the first 9 days of the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Everyone dresses in white and shopkeepers set up small alters with offerings of incense, flowers, candles, fruit, and 9 cups of tea to the 9 emperor deities honored by the festival. Mediums bring the 9 gods to earth entering a trance state and piercing themselves with all kinds of objects, climbing knife ladders, and walking on hot coals. The mediums participate in daily processions through town where they stop at the store front alters, drink one of the 9 cups of tea, and offer blessings to the merchants. The shopkeepers stand in prayer like fashion respecting the mediums that are temporarily possessed by the deity. The self torture is done to shift evil from individuals to the mediums and bring the community good luck. Young men carry alters of the deity images though town which culminates at central locations where merchants cover them with huge strands of firecrackers and larger explosives. The louder and longer blasts are best to drive away evil spirits. The experience is deafening and engulfs the men and alters in a painful barrage of fire and smoke. Chinese tour groups come to witness since there is no record of this type celebration of Taoist Lent in China. The festival is believed to have started when a Chinese theatre troupe fell ill for failing to honor the 9 emperor gods of Taoism. They were quickly cured when they adhered to the 9 day ritual now held each year promoting inner peace, brightness, and proper hygiene.
Female mediums in the Phuket Vegetarian Festival Street Procession, Phuket Town, Thailand.
** The Phuket Vegetarian Festival celebrates the beginning of Taoist Lent, when devout Chinese abstain from eating all meat and other vices. The festival takes place on the first 9 days of the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Everyone dresses in white and shopkeepers set up small alters with offerings of incense, flowers, candles, fruit, and 9 cups of tea to the 9 emperor deities honored by the festival.
Mediums bring the 9 gods to earth entering a trance state and piercing themselves with all kinds of objects, climbing knife ladders, and walking on hot coals. The mediums participate in daily processions through town where they stop at the store front alters, drink one of the 9 cups of tea, and offer blessings to the merchants. The shopkeepers stand in prayer like fashion respecting the mediums that are temporarily possessed by the deity. The self torture is done to shift evil from individuals to the mediums and bring the community good luck.
Young men carry alters of the deity images though town which culminates at central locations where merchants cover them with huge strands of firecrackers and larger explosives. The louder and longer blasts are best to drive away evil spirits. The experience is deafening and engulfs the men and alters in a painful barrage of fire and smoke.
Chinese tour groups come to witness since there is no record of this type celebration of Taoist Lent in China. The festival is believed to have started when a Chinese theater troupe fell ill for failing to honor the 9 emperor gods of Taoism. They were quickly cured when they adhered to the 9 day ritual now held each year promoting inner peace, brightness, and proper hygiene.

Female mediums in the Phuket Vegetarian Festival Street Procession, Phuket Town, Thailand. ** The Phuket Vegetarian Festival celebrates the beginning of Taoist Lent, when devout Chinese abstain from eating all meat and other vices. The festival takes place on the first 9 days of the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Everyone dresses in white and shopkeepers set up small alters with offerings of incense, flowers, candles, fruit, and 9 cups of tea to the 9 emperor deities honored by the festival. Mediums bring the 9 gods to earth entering a trance state and piercing themselves with all kinds of objects, climbing knife ladders, and walking on hot coals. The mediums participate in daily processions through town where they stop at the store front alters, drink one of the 9 cups of tea, and offer blessings to the merchants. The shopkeepers stand in prayer like fashion respecting the mediums that are temporarily possessed by the deity. The self torture is done to shift evil from individuals to the mediums and bring the community good luck. Young men carry alters of the deity images though town which culminates at central locations where merchants cover them with huge strands of firecrackers and larger explosives. The louder and longer blasts are best to drive away evil spirits. The experience is deafening and engulfs the men and alters in a painful barrage of fire and smoke. Chinese tour groups come to witness since there is no record of this type celebration of Taoist Lent in China. The festival is believed to have started when a Chinese theatre troupe fell ill for failing to honor the 9 emperor gods of Taoism. They were quickly cured when they adhered to the 9 day ritual now held each year promoting inner peace, brightness, and proper hygiene.

Female mediums in the Phuket Vegetarian Festival Street Procession, Phuket Town, Thailand. ** The Phuket Vegetarian Festival celebrates the beginning of Taoist Lent, when devout Chinese abstain from eating all meat and other vices. The festival takes place on the first 9 days of the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Everyone dresses in white and shopkeepers set up small alters with offerings of incense, flowers, candles, fruit, and 9 cups of tea to the 9 emperor deities honored by the festival. Mediums bring the 9 gods to earth entering a trance state and piercing themselves with all kinds of objects, climbing knife ladders, and walking on hot coals. The mediums participate in daily processions through town where they stop at the store front alters, drink one of the 9 cups of tea, and offer blessings to the merchants. The shopkeepers stand in prayer like fashion respecting the mediums that are temporarily possessed by the deity. The self torture is done to shift evil from individuals to the mediums and bring the community good luck. Young men carry alters of the deity images though town which culminates at central locations where merchants cover them with huge strands of firecrackers and larger explosives. The louder and longer blasts are best to drive away evil spirits. The experience is deafening and engulfs the men and alters in a painful barrage of fire and smoke. Chinese tour groups come to witness since there is no record of this type celebration of Taoist Lent in China. The festival is believed to have started when a Chinese theatre troupe fell ill for failing to honor the 9 emperor gods of Taoism. They were quickly cured when they adhered to the 9 day ritual now held each year promoting inner peace, brightness, and proper hygiene.
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