The tradition was born in 1825 where a touring Opera group from China fell sick whilst performing in the area. The illness was a potentially fatal one.
The group submitted to follow a strict 10-day cleansing regime of only vegetarian or vegan food, abstinence from other substances, such as alcohol, as well as performing sacred worshipping rituals to the Nine Emperor Gods. The group overcame the illness and hence continued the tradition of thanking the Gods to this day.
This year the extravagant festival hasn’t disappointed, bringing back all the excitement, colour, firecrackers, body piercings and fantastic vegetarian food that one could have hoped to witness. It’s been an eventful week on our paradise island Phuket.
Phuket Tourism officials revealed that this year’s Phuket Vegetarian Festival is expected to generate over 3.4 billion Thai Baht in revenue.
The festival kicked into gear on Friday evening with the traditional Raising of the Lantern Pole ceremonies to mark the start of the festivities.
‘Sao Ko Teng’, the Thai name, are the preparatory celebrations and the first major event of the festival.
The Lantern Pole raising ceremony was celebrated at all shrines involved in the event around Phuket.
Between 15:00 and 17:45 all shrines raised the Lantern Pole which is said to attract the 36,000 Gods of the Chinese Pantheon.
Also on Friday, every shrine held the Heavenly Warriors Releasing Ritual (Parng Kun) and between 22:00 and 24:00 the Jade Emperor God and Nine Emperor Gods were invited to descend on the island to pay witness to the festivities held in their honour.
At midnight, the lanterns are hung from the pole and fireworks mark the official start of the festival.
Phuket Island Radio will be at every parade and event through the festival, stay tuned and follow our news.
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The opening weekend of ceremonies centres around the preparation of the food. Hundreds of stalls line the streets next to temples with an abundance of vegetarian or vegan dishes. The whole festival is a street foodies paradise.
From Monday the 3rd of October, daily street processions are being held each morning from around 7am. The actual times in each shrine will vary slightly. There are full details here. Participants in the festival walk for kilometres in honour of the Nine Emperor Gods and display their religious devotion through sacred rituals, acts of self-mutilation, fire walking and other activities performed for the Gods.
Devotees will enter into a trance-like state and commence the walking processions with various objects pierced through their face and body. This is quite a spectacle to witness.
Fire walking ceremonies were held at various shrines on Thursday the 6th, Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th of October.
A large ceremony was held at the Kathu Shrine on Sunday afternoon. Thousands of people gathered to watch as participants underwent rituals in preparation. Chanting, movement and firecrackers infused the atmosphere as the fire pit was made ready for participants.
On the final day of the festival, street processions and closing preparations begin early on Sunday morning. One of the main shrines, Sui Boon Tong, saw large numbers of locals and participants join the morning street procession. The festivities continued throughout the day, but the most impressive, the Grand Finale, extended into the late evening. See ALL the pictures here
This culminated in a massive display of fireworks, firecrackers, smoke and lighting as thousands made their farewells and thanks to the Gods. The final procession is to accompany the Gods as they depart Phuket once again.
The final procession is to accompany the Gods as they depart Phuket once again.
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