The Vegetarian Festival
Phuket, Phang Nga | 29 Sep 2019 – 7 Oct 2019
Each year, the islands of Phuket and Phang Nga burst into colour, with yellow and red with flags lining every Chinese temple and decorating almost every street. Participants in the festival also dress in nothing but white, while restaurants either change their menus to serve up only vegetarian food or simply close their doors for this period.
Also referred to as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, the origins of the nine-day festival and its ceremonies are uncertain, but believed to be associated with a 19th century travelling Chinese opera group that contracted malaria and miraculously recovered after praying to the nine gods and abstaining from meat. In the modern version of the festival, participants consume only vegetarian food, abstain from alcohol, remain celibate and engage in other practices to purity the mind, body, and spirit.
Acts of self-purification can be gruesome and bloody, as participants walk on hot coals, climb an 8-metre ladder made of sharp blades and pierce their cheeks and tongues with swords, guns and even bicycles – a sight that is not suitable for everybody. Check out our Gallery pages for some stunning images!