Witness the Surreal Phuket Vegetarian Festival
See traditions of the past come alive at Phuket’s most celebrated festival. Chinese gods Giu Ong will descend from the heavens and reside in Phuket for nine days
The Vegetarian Festival is a time for spiritual and physical cleansing, paying respect to ancestors and receiving blessings. It is the most significant cultural event in Phuket. A fabulous display of religion, culture, food and people. Khiri Travel Thailand ventures out to visit the last weekend of the festival.
On Friday, clients arrive in Phuket at their leisure. At 4pm we meet the tour leader who will give us recommendations on the festival’s do’s and don’ts. After this, there is time for a walk around town. Phuket is putting a big effort into becoming a World Heritage Site. So, walking the streets of the old town clients will see many historic shop houses and mansions. Tonight we eat a delicious vegetarian dinner from one of the local restaurants.
On Saturday, we leave the hotel very early in the morning to watch the ceremonies and rang song (literally ‘body of the spirit’) at work. The mediums will go in to a trance and later the rite of self-flagellation will begin. This is not something for the faint of heart as sharp objects and needles are inserted into devotees’ faces and even their tongues. While they are possessed they claim not to feel any pain.
Other forms of flagellation include being hit with cloths soaked in hot oil and walking on fire. Loud noises from firecrackers and magical elements of the mystical, human, and religious, all blend into one surreal street parade. The festival will even hold well-seasoned travellers in awe.
On our last day, the Giu Ong are sent back to their heavenly abode, which means more parades and activities. Depending on travelers’ departure time, we explore more of the festival.
Festival dates for the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, which is being celebrated all over Phuket, are usually around the end of September and beginning of October.
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