People wearing white clothes, trays of vegetarian street food decorated with yellow flags, colorful spiritual ceremonies, street processions and unusual evening events, sounds of fireworks – this is all about the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket.
One of the brightest spiritual festivals of Thailand – the Vegetarian Festival – happens in Phuket every September – October. It is dedicated to the belief of island Chinese community. The belief says that abstaining from meat and not harming animals during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help people to clean their mind and body and gain good health and peace of mind.
The History of Phuket Vegetarian Festival
There are several versions of the festival origin. The most popular is the story telling how in the 19th century the famous Chinese opera group was touring in Phuket and everybody got seriously sick with malaria. Those days malaria was a fatal disease. People didn’t know how to recover and decided to go on a strict vegetarian diet and pray to the Nine Emperor Gods to clean their minds and bodies. To everyone’s amazement, the whole group recovered completely. People decided to celebrate this event by holding a festival in order to express their happiness and honor to the Gods. Afterward, the festival has grown into an exciting annual event attended by thousands of people – locals and tourists from China and other Asian countries.
What the Phuket Vegetarian Festival is About
The venue for the main celebrations is Phuket Town and its neighboring Kathu area. All over the island you can see restaurants decorated with yellow flags, following festival traditions. The diet on the festival is actually vegan: consumption of meat, milk, dairy products, eggs, and honey is prohibited. Also, onion and garlic can’t be used in cooking and can’t be eaten – they can lead to lust, passion and anger enhance, as believed. Consumption of alcohol is prohibited as well. Festival participants wear white clothes as a symbol of cleanliness and purity.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival is much more than just a tradition of dieting, this is a true celebration of the Gods. Worshipers come to group pray in Chinese shrines. There are many ritual ceremonies and demonstrations taking place on the streets of the island. The festival is famous for its extreme and awe-inspiring religious rituals, where mediums get into trance and sacrifice by piercing themselves or walking through burning coals. These rituals are done for the sake of themselves and the whole society, getting rid of the bad in the future and attracting the favor of the Gods in the present.
The Dates of Phuket Vegetarian Festival, 2019
In 2019 the festival will be held from the 28th of September till the 7th of October. If you plan your holidays in Phuket, Thailand, on the mentioned dates, you are invited to the unique occasion, unforgettable atmosphere of the festival!