The Phuket vegetarian festival is really something to experience and everyone reacts to it in a different way. There are those that love the thrill of it or appreciate the spiritual side, whilst others find it quite alarming. Phuket day tours organise a trip around town where most of the action takes place, but you can go there yourself just as easily.
Where it Began
The story behind the festival is an interesting one, it begins way back when Chinese people started to migrate to Phuket in search of a better life. In those days, the tin mining industry was booming and there was plenty of work around. That is the reason there are many Thai people with Chinese ancestry in Phuket today.
Chinese opera performers would visit the island to entertain the migrants and bring a taste of home to them. However, on one visit there was an epidemic and many people got very sick, members of the troupe also became very ill, but nobody knew why.
Back home in China it was traditional to host a vegetarian festival every year, to keep the gods happy and protect against sickness and ill-health. Living in Phuket there had been no celebration, and the Chinese believed the gods were angry with them, thus the sickness.
This was how the festival started here and it has become a yearly event, it now attracts thousands for its unusual, and sometimes, risky activities. Those that join in the festivities dress in white for purity, and are also supposed to give up eating meat, drinking alcohol, sex, and telling lies.
If you are interested in seeing a parade, then check the timetable and head to town. Hundreds of people join the processions, either to watch or become a part of the festival. Many of the locals work themselves up into a trance-like state, apparently channeling the gods, and facial piercings are common.
You’ll be both shocked and amazed at the kinds of objects people have succeeded in piercing themselves with. Bicycle parts, spears and knives, axes, umbrellas, it seems that anything goes if it is sharp enough to pierce your cheek or tongue. Firecrackers are let off constantly which can be quite scary too!
There are also regular events at some of the most important Chinese shrines where you’ll see people walking on fire and climbing ladders with rungs made from knives. If you do decide to join a parade, then don’t forget to take your camera as there are some great photo opportunities.
Join us at La Moet Phuket for a sunny sailing tour around the islands. There is no better way to experience the stunning rock formations and coastal scenery the area is so famous for.