What a long, loud and crazy nine days its been here in Phuket Town. No one could have prepared us for The Vegetarian Festival. It is beyond words and beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed.
When I first heard about this I was a little dumbfounded, we were told how epic and hardcore it was and all I could think was, “really, a vegetarian festival is hardcore??” But for real, it’s nuts. This isn’t going to be a long post. I’ve been trying to rack my brain over how I could possibly express the level of “holy shit” we’ve bore witness too and it’s just not possible. There isn’t an adjective to describe it. Pictures and videos don’t do it justice. Anyone who’s been lucky enough to witness this madness knows what I’m talking about.
Here’s my attempt at describing what we will call amazing mayhem:
The Vegetarian Festival is held during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. There are ten commitments to obey by during the nine day festival…
• Cleanliness of the body
• Use special kitchen utensils only for the festival
• Dress in white or in a very light color
• Behave physically and mentally
• Don’t eat: meat, fish, eggs, milk
• No sex
• No alcoholic beverages
• People in mourning should not go to any ceremony
• Pregnant ladies should not go to any ceremony
• Women with their period should not go to any ceremony
(these aren’t meant for westerners to obey by, except for wearing white)
People from all over Asia fly here to partake in this annual tradition. Although the vegetarian festival takes place across all of Thailand, Phuket is by far the busiest. Here is a list of events that take place throughout the festival:
- Hot oil bathing
- Hot water bathing
- Bladed ladder climbing
- Piercings (most commonly thru the cheeks)
- Hot coal walking
- Tongue and back cutting
- Firecrackers and fireworks run in the mornings and at night
If you ever have the chance to see the festival, don’t pass it up! Below are images of the “piercings” you typically see as part of the parades. The acts take place at a Shrine, usually in the morning, and then the parade goes around the city. If you don’t wish to view graphic images of the piercings, skip past the images below.
CAUTION!! GRAPHIC MATERIALS BELOW!
There are tons of pictures that are far too graphic to post. If you’d like to see some really gnarly stuff check out this link:
TIP: If you want to see the piercings happen you can go to the shrines early in the morning (they start around 5 AM)..although I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a tough stomach.
By far, the last night of the festival is the craziest. The amount of fireworks and firecrackers being thrown is overwhelming. This video gives a glimpse of what I’m talking about:
If you attend a future festival, … be aware that, while most of the firecrackers/fireworks are harmless, you can still get hurt. I would highly recommend ear plugs, eye protection, and long pants. You will most likely get hit a few times with firecrackers and some do cause burns.
Dave had a close encounter during this festival. Dave was, thankfully, not injured:
Thanks for reading!