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Vegetarian festival: more than sticking to greens

Posted by Dave on 24 October 2007, 7:04 pm

Phuket is a Thai island popular with those who can afford to holiday or have a second home here. Not exactly backpacker friendly, Phuket prides itself on its luxurious offerings in lodging, sports & leisure and nightlife. David Beckham is rumored to have bought property here, to give you a sense of who we’re talking about.

But for nine days every year, Phuket changes hats so to speak, with the advent of the world famous vegetarian festival. The roots of the festival are deep, with the main goal to purify the mind and body through certain renunciate practices. Nothing fancy, just abstaining from alcohol, meat and sex for the nine day duration. This incredibly unique festival is celebrated not by Thai Buddhists, but Buddhists living in Thailand (or anywhere else for that matter, who can get to Phuket for the festival) that have Chinese ancestry.

That said, most anyone with a strong will can take part in the festival, where to prove their faith, devotees engage in various activities like sticking knives and skewers through their cheeks, walk across hot coals, or carry heavy shrines on their heads that pierce the skin of the back.

How such a simple premise leads to such elaborate and painful affair is a fascinating thing to witness, and even as an outsider the mood is palpable throughout the days of the festival.

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This page last updated: 04 October 2007
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