Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 - 12 to 21 October 2015

Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Vegetarian Festival in Phuket
Bamboo pole rising day at Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 (or Nine Emperor Gods Festival) is held between 12 and 21 October 2015. This festival happens once a year during the ninth lunar month and is one of the most auspicious events on the island. Crowds of devotes assemble in all the Chinese shrines on the island, followed by a horde of photographs avid to get the photo of their life.

Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Phuket
Devote entering trance
All along both sides of streets leading to shrines, food stands display tons of vegetarian dishes, in all imaginable shapes and forms, but often having a similar taste. Once I saw a full collection of imitation sushi's all made of rice and tofu! (see photo) The irony is that it is actually hard to find vegetables, all you can eat are noodles, deep fried stuff and even tofu shaped like... meat, but no vegetables. In addition, many restaurants are closed, so if you are not into deep fried and tofu, get ready to drive or to starve.

Extreme piercings
Weeks before the Vegetarian Festival events start, yellow flags and Chinese flags bloom on road sides and intersections at Chinese temple proximity. Stages, decorations and parade accessories with appear at temples, and dozens of food stands are erected nearby. The whole event is heavily sponsored.

Daily parade in the old Phuket streets
The Festival main event then start and multitude of worshipers, all dressed in white or yellow, unite in shrines for the first event marking the opening of the ceremony: the giant bamboo pole rising, meant to invite divinities to come down to earth. The devotees wear bright and very ornamented outfits And then you are set for a full week of firecrackers, parades, piercings... and of course, vegetarian food..

Each day of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, a procession start from one of the main Phuket shrines and thousands of people will pay respect to ancestors. During this entire week everyone follow ten principles: mostly wear white, do not eat meat, do not drink alcohol, do no have sexual activities, etc... two of them include women having periods should not attend nor even watch the festival.

Sushi anyone? it's all rice and tofu, no fish!
The purpose of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival itself which seems to originate in the 1800, seems to differ from the Chinese event which occurs in several countries of South East Asia. Here, the worshipers will follow these ten principles to cleanse their spirit while the devotees will go in procession, self inflicting all kinds of tortures to shift other worshipers evil onto themselves in order to bring luck back on the community. Sweet...

Tofu or noodles...where are the veggies!
It is to be seen once in your life, but with such eerie views, it attracts a crowd of photographers all wanting their share of weird photo to take back home. So from early morning, worshipers will enter a trance at the shrine and pierce their cheek with the most extreme object possible. I always wondered what could possibly motivate the choice of a scale warship model.

Anyway here you go, I'll post here the unavoidable piercing photos that everyone has already seen or has shot. I'll spare you the gross 'tongue sliding on a knife' one, it's too much.

More challenging are the photos of the fire cracker parade, with the tremendous amount of suffocating smoke and the totally deafening noise. Also the 'walk on fire' is really hard to photograph. First you have to save a spot near the burning charcoal early not to have anyone in front of you, which means sweating for at least an hour. Second: the 'walking' is more of a jump as fast as you can above the charcoal, so with the lack of light, taking sharp images difficult, so get ready with your fill flash to freeze the moment.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival Calendar and Schedule (to be confirmed)

Photos of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Jui Tui Shrine at night
Last day parade
Phuket Vegetarian Festival Weird Piercing collection - Scroll at your own risk :D
Boat model
Bike wheel
Bunch of electric cords
Shock absorber
I spared you the gross ones but you get the picture
Few women in the procession
1 to 9 on Phuket Vegetarian Festival Map are Chinese Shrines where Phuket Vegetarian Festival events are happening followed by other chinese shrines of interest