In honor of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival that starts today and runs till October 26th, I thought I'd post this audio slide show of the pictures I took when I went to the festival in 2007. My husband thinks my commentary sounds too serious and dramatic (he wasn't at the festival with me) so he made me think that maybe my pictures aren't saying the "thousand words" I thought they were. The festival is very, very dramatic - I'd say the most dramatic event I've ever been too. Don't watch this slide show if you faint at the sight of blood.
Every year during the first nine days of the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, certain southern Chinese Thais celebrate "Taoist Lent" with this festival. Besides abstaining from meat, participants make a procession through town, many piercing their cheeks with everything from needles and spikes to lampshades and machine guns. Others saw their tongues or flagellate themselves with sharp objects so they bleed profusely; some walk across hot coals. Meanwhile shop owners set up alters offering tea, fruit, flowers, incense and more to the procession participants who, in a trance-like state act as mediums of the Nine Emperor Gods. It's all done for the sake of purification and definitely qualifies as a religious frenzy especially once all the firecrackers start popping, making the streets look and feel like a crazed, smoky war zone.
For more info about this event go to www.phuketvegetarian.com - there are also Vegetarian Festivals in Krabi Town, Trang and a few other towns on the Thai Andaman Coast at the same time.
All the following photos were taken by me in 2007. What I don't have pictures of are all the fabulous vegetarian food stalls that open up during the festival. While I saw quite a few tourists during the procession I hardly saw any "farang" faces at these food stalls and they were great places to laugh and chat with locals. Lots of dumplings, soups and Thai curries - yum!