From October 8-16, Vegetarianism reigns supreme in Phuket, Thailand. The Phuket Vegetarian Festival began in 1825 and has only become larger, stronger and more popular, worldwide since its inception. Participants in the fest keep to a strict vegetarian diet for a varying number of days, usually no less than three. This they do to make themselves strong in mind and body; they refrain from all vice, eating animal flesh, and killing animals. The festival thus promotes good hygiene, brightness and inner peace.
Sure, there’s lots of great food although the ceremonies are what makes this week long celebration so unique. Ceremonies throughout the fest include: the invocation of the gods Lam Tao, who keeps track of the living, and Pak Tao, who keeps track of the dead; processions of the gods’ images; and feats of the Ma Song-like bathing in hot oil, bladed ladder climbing and fire-walking. The festival ends with merit making ceremonies at each temple (sadoh kroh) and the send-off of the gods on the last night (when fireworks are at their most impressive).
In addition, if you’re looking to take part in the festivities, you may want to get acquainted with the rules:
1. Cleanliness of bodies during the festival
2. Clean kitchen utensils and to use them seperately from other who do not join the festival
3. Wear white during the festival
4. Behave physically and mentally
5. No meat eating
6. No sex
7. No alcoholic drinks
8. People at mourning period should not attend the festival
9. Pregnant ladies should not watch any ritual
10. Ladies with period should not attend the ritual
Ok, so it seems a bit much but hey, it’s tradition! If you’re looking to see a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle and celebration of the power of vegetarianism in another country, be sure to check out the Phuket Vegetarian Festival site for more info as well as tips on hotels, etc. เพลิดเพลิน!