10 Things You Have To know About The Vegetarian Festival Phuket

Did you know that every October Phuket is home to one of the most shocking and spiritual festivals in the country? Phuket locals will begin abiding to a strict vegetarian diets and at the end of the month every Chinese Taoist temple on the island will be home to fireworks, firewalking and acts of devotion from select members of clans that many people wouldn’t believe until they see.

This year, the festival will take place from the 20th till the 28th of October for 8 days, celebrating the Chinese Taoists’ beliefs of not consuming meat or harming animals to purify their minds and bodies.

The festival is not just about a tradition of challenging yourselves to a vegan diet but it has so much more to it. It is filled with rich history and beliefs. It is a festival of spirits and rituals. Some may choose to believe in the event while some may not, however, one thing nobody can deny is that the acts of devotion are fascinating.

*Image by Neophuket

How it began? There are many stories to how the festival began, the most common and widely agreed upon is the tale of when a famous Chinese opera crew travelled to Phuket island for their performances on the largely Chinese inhabited island, the whole cast fell gravely ill with what is now believed to be malaria. With no luck of getting better, they decided to go on a strict vegan diet and pray to the Nine Taoist Emperor Gods to purify their minds and bodies. To everyone’s disbelief, the crew recovered, which at the time was a difficult feat. Celebrations of the Nine Emperor Gods now became an annual event as the festival develops, more demonstrations began. The festival falls in the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar.

Why? People believe that when they don’t consume or harm any living animals they are gaining merits as well as cleansing or detoxing their bodies. Also, washing away their sins and their wrongful doings. They purify both their bodies and minds.

*Image by Brook Sabin

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What? Even though it is known as the vegetarian festival in Phuket, however, the diet is actually vegan. There is no meat consumption nor can they consume milk, yogurt, honey or eggs. The strangest thing is that the diet forbids consuming 5 pungent vegetables such as onions and garlic. They’re veggies, how could it be forbidden? Well, everything has a reason and here’s why. Apparently, those veggies can lead people to aggravate lust, passion and anger.

Invited Guests from Above to Possess Individuals’ Bodies What? Yes, believe it or not, spiritual individuals invite gods from above to use or possess their bodies. Scary as it sounds, some individuals are chosen by their purity. The more purified a person is the more likely that gods from above will choose to enter your body. But what do they do as soon as the gods from above have chosen those individuals? People around those individuals have to look after them with great care, otherwise, their spirit could not be returned to their bodies.

During the festival, there are many demonstrations that go on around Phuket. Those who are possessed by the gods will start a parade from different shrines to Kua Tian Keng Sapan Hin Shrine. During the parade, the possessed ones are all dressed up in Chinese customs to represent which gods have entered them and the most fascinating thing is that they piece their cheeks with swords or needles during the parade. Throughout the demonstration, they have certain objects that are pieced through their cheeks, those could be a large sword, needles, guns, a part of a bike and more.

10 rules to follow during the festival:

  1. Cleanliness of bodies throughout the festival
  2. All kitchen utensils must be cleaned and separate from those who are not participating in the event
  3. White clothes to be worn during the festival
  4. Behave Physically and mentally
  5. No meat consumption or products involving animals such as milk, eggs and honey
  6. Sexual intercourse is forbidden during the festival
  7. No alcoholic drinks
  8. People during grieving period should not attend the festival
  9. Pregnant women should not attend or watch any rituals
  10. Ladies during menstrual cycle should not attend the ritual

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