Famous Phuket veg fest underway
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is considered one of the most-famous events in Thailand, which never fails to draw eager crowds and avid worshippers.
The high-profile festival commenced on Monday and is on till next Tuesday. Devotees cleanse their bodies for nine days before they honour nine Taoist emperor gods.
The history of the festival in Phuket particularly dates back to 1800, when the province was inhabited mostly by Chinese miners.
Around that time, an epidemic, which spread in Kathu town, claimed the lives of many people, including members of an opera troupe from China.
The troupe decided to lead locals in abstaining from eating meat and diligently prayed to the gods for nine days and nine nights in the hope of finding a cure.
Their efforts paid off, with infected troupe members recovering from the epidemic. This led to great curiosity among the locals, who turned believers.
In present times, devotees in Phuket celebrate the festival with several activities, including a fire-walking ritual that involves walking through fire or across burning coal to cleanse oneself of any evil or bad luck.
Some devotees even take it upon themselves to go through some sort of torture, including metal piercing, to "shift the evil" of other worshipers onto themselves in an attempt to bring luck back to the community.