The Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2021, is also named The Nine Emperor Gods Festival, is an annual event held on the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar to celebrate the Chinese community’s belief in getting good health and peace of mind. The community believes that abstaining from meat and other negative stimulants is the driving factor for good health and peace of mind. The event is held on Phuket island, Thailand.
Latest Update from the provincial governor Narong Woonciew: The governor said Ceremonial activities must be scaled down and Displays of supernatural power through mediums are banned.
The number of people taking part in a ceremony, including mediums and their assistants must be limited. These limits can only be set by a committee at each Chinese shrine to follow distancing rules; mask-wearing procedures for hand washing as well temperature taking before they begin work. They also need ThaiChana apps (DMHTTA).
No flares or fireworks are allowed.
Should new infections be detected people must be moved out for treatment and the area sealed off if new infections are detected around a shrine, during ceremonies or in kitchens.
Phuket FM radio will continue to monitor the situation and news coming from the organisers of the 2021 vegetarian festival and keep everyone up to date here and on 91.5 FM and 102.5 FM.
During this festival, devotees of the Chinese culture gather in shrines all over Phuket island to perform religious rituals meant to purify the mind and body. Its unique celebration makes it an outstanding event. A group of devotees performs self-mortification acts to link to their gods. Several other daring events, including body piercing and firewalking, also take place.
Throughout the festival period, street ways leading to the shrines are dominated by all kinds of vegetarian food, and most restaurants close down operations until the celebrations are over.
The History Behind Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Several theories explain the origin of the Phuket vegetarian festival. However, the most outstanding and accepted theory is the story of the famous Chinese opera crew.
In 1825, an epidemic struck Kathu town, a town inhabited mainly by Chinese miners. A famous Chinese opera crew was hired to perform in Phuket. Not long after their arrival, the crew contracted the deadly epidermic and fell ill. The Chinese medicine men tried traditional medicines to cure the crew, but all was in vain.
The Chinese opera crew then guided Phuket locals to start abstaining from eating meat. They also advised the locals to start praying to the Nine Emperor Gods for nine days and nine nights, in accordance with the ninth Chinese lunar month festival celebrated in China.
Shortly, the entire crew recovered from the epidermic. The locals became curious and started practising the celebration, which was passed from generation to generation, to the present day. This marks the birth of the Phuket vegetarian festival.
How the Phuket Vegetarian Festival Sets Off
At the beginning of the festival, all devotees and participants gather at Jui Tui Shrine in Phuket Town. A giant bamboo pole is put in place to allow divinities to descend to earth. All devotees put on bright ornamental yellow or white outfits.
At the start of every day of the Phuket vegetarian festival, all participants meet at leading shrines around Phuket island, where the procession starts.
The processions are done in a way to honour the Chinese ancestors.
A set of guidelines addressing the principles the participants should adhere to while celebrating is put in place.
The principles guiding participants are as discussed below:
Principles of Nine Emperor gods Festival
- All devotees and participants should put on yellow or white clothes during the festival
- All participants should abstain from drinking alcoholic drinks
- Mourners are exempted from participating in the festival
- During the entire festival, no participant should eat meat or any other animal product
- All devotees and participants are directed not to steal, cheat, or lie
- All participants are directed to abstain from gambling activities
- All devotees should abstain from sexual activities until the festival is over
- No participant is supposed to eat strongly spiced food
- Participants should keep their bodies clean
- Cooking utensils should be washed separately from the ones used in the event
- All participants are not allowed to bedeck jewellery and leather goods.
- Pregnant and women in menstruation are not allowed in the festival.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2021
The 2021 Phuket Vegetarian Festival is scheduled from Tuesday, October 5th to Friday, October 15th. The whole festival is expected to be conducted in strict Covid 19 guidelines.
Having joined the festival recently, the Naka shrine will host the first central street procession on October 7th, a day which procession never occurred before.
All processions will start early in the morning, at 7 am, pass through Phuket town old section and end at Sapan Hin or back to the shrines the procession started. There will also be small local processions at Chalong, Kata, and Surin.
The Festival Schedule
Map of the Phuket Shrines
On the left is a map of Phuket with the shrines identified with blue tags.
Click on each blue tag to read more.
Check the schedule below with the location on the map.
Throughout the festival period, street ways leading to the shrines are dominated by all kinds of vegetarian food.
Most restaurants close down operations until the celebrations are over.
Below is the expected order of events for the festival.
Tuesday, October 5th
From 4 pm – 6 pm, the Go Teng pole will be raised at all shrines, and events will go on the whole evening. At exactly midnight, lanterns will be hunged from the poles to signify the start of the ceremony. Fireworks and firecrackers will then follow.
Wednesday, October 6th
All devotees are expected to meet at the Naka shrine, where the first street procession takes place. However, participants can visit any other shrine at any time of the day. Jae food will be available all over the island and around the shrines. Participants are directed to stick to the recommended diet, that is, no meat and animal products meals.
Thursday, October 7th
Participants are supposed to meet at Naka Shrine in Punket town, where the procession will take place. Naka shrine is found next to the weekend market in the outskirts of Phuket Town.
Friday, October 8th
The street procession will start at 7 am at Sapam shrine. This shrine is located north of Phuket Town, 10km from Sapan Hin. Piercing activities occur before processions, so be there before 7 am if you want to experience it.
Another procession will occur at Kathu village to honour the birth and death gods Lam Tao and Pak Tao. On the same evening, several other shrines will host the same procession.
Saturday, October 9th
Sam Kong shrine will host the major procession of the day. The procession will start from the shrine, headed to the Bangkok-Phuket Hospital and through old Phuket town sections. Face piercing will also take place at the shrine. Be sure to be there early in the morning as the town is congested with stalls all over.
Sunday, October 10th
The day’s procession starts from the Tha Ruea shrine. This temple is located at the centre of Phuket island and was the main town in Phuket long ago. The town is also home to several historic temples. Furthermore, the town hosts the annual Heroines Festival.
Monday, October 11th
At 7 am, there will be a street procession at Bang Neow Shrine in Phuket Town. The shrine is located towards the south of the town, on Phuket Road. Huge participants turn up is expected on this day, as several other activities will be taking place.
There will also be another procession at Cherng Talay Shrine from 7 am. The procession will head to Cherng Talay, Thalang district.
On the same day, there will be fire walking at several shrines, starting from 8 pm. Visit Sapam Shrine, Baan Tha Rua Shrine, Sui Boon Tong shrine, and Sapan Hin.
Tuesday, October 12th
The street procession for the day will start at the Jui Tui Shrine, Phuket’s most prominent shrine. It is found on the west wing of the main market.
On the same day, several other events will take place at various shrines. There will be the bladed ladder climbing at Bang Neow shrine and Sam Kong shrines. Nail bridge crossing will take place at Sapam Shrine.
Wednesday, October 13th
The street procession will start from the Kathu shrine heading to Plunket town. This procession will cover about 10km to reach Plunket town. The procession will then proceed through the old town to Sapan Hin. Piercing activities will also take place in the morning before the procession starts.
Thursday, October 14th
In the morning, there will be a street procession from the Sui Boon Tong shrine. There will also be a firewalking event at the Kathu shrine in the afternoon.
From the evening till late night, there will be a procession around Phuket Town. This procession is expected to be a major one, with many participants to mark the end of the festival. The procession will feature participants carrying their god’s statutes heading to Sapan Hin. There will also be firecrackers and fireworks.
If you plan to be part of this procession, then be sure to wear a long-sleeved shirt and long trousers. Also, put on a closed shoe to prevent your feet from getting burnt. You may also need to put on a face mask as there will be too much smoke.
In the evening, there will be a bridge crossing event meant for purification purposes. This will take place at the shrine.
Friday, October 15th
At 5 pm, the lantern poles will be lowered at all shrines to mark the end of the 2021 Phuket vegetarian festival.
Places for Accommodation for your 2021 Phuket Vegetarian Festival
There are several accommodation facilities you can book if you wish to experience the Phuket vegetarian festival. However, one of the best places for your stay throughout the festive week is probably at one of the heritage hotels in Phuket town. The hotels, despite being unhistorical, have the right atmosphere for the festival.
There are also guesthouses on the old Sino Portuguese shophouses. They are centrally located in the old streets. These guest houses are affordable and renovated to their standards. They are near the streets where the procession takes place so that it will be convenient for you.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival affects Egg Prices.
Thailand’s Department of Livestock Development is working with related agencies to implement measures to curb the crashing prices of eggs during the “vegetarian festival” from October 6-14.
The Department has organized a meeting with representatives from the Department of Internal Trade (DIT), cooperatives, associations, clubs and breeding chicken entrepreneurs to discuss preventive measures, as the prices of chicken eggs will fall during the festival.
The meeting agreed to implement 3 strategies.
Small laying-hen farms are to get rid of hens 75-80 weeks old, large laying-hen farms are to promote the export of eggs with the targeted amount of 150 shipping containers from October to November and the Department of Livestock Development is to control the fertilized eggs in the market, which have caused suffering to smallholder farmers.
In addition, the meeting proposed, to the Ministry of Commerce, compensation for those who export chicken eggs, as well as control and supervision of the price of raw animal feed ingredients, or to allow animal feed factories to import other raw animal feed ingredients to replace the local corn, which is currently expensive.