Here it comes again, the first day of the ninth month of the year on the Chinese Lunar Calendar, marking the beginning of annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival.
The festival, one of the most important events in Phuket each year, will return from October 13-20.
On the eve of the first day of the festival, all participating shrines in Phuket will raise go teng lantern poles to attract the 36,000 gods of the Chinese pantheon. The lantern poles will be hoisted between 4pm and 5:45pm, depending on each shrine.
Form there, the annual onslaught of festivities, processions and merit-making activities ensue. A selection of the main events are as follows:
Processions in Phuket Town
Thu (Oct 15): Sapam Shrine – Street procession in Phuket Town, from 7am
Fri (Oct 16): Samkong Shrine – Street procession in Phuket Town, from 7:19am
Sat (Oct 17): Ban Tha Rua Shrine – Street procession in Phuket Town, from 7:30am
Sun (Oct 18): Bang Neow Shrine – Street procession in Phuket Town, from 7am
Mon (Oct 19): Jui Tui Shrine – Street procession in Phuket Town, from 7:19am
Tue (Oct 20): Kathu and Yokkekeng shrines – Street procession in Phuket Town, from 7am
Wed (Oct 21): Sui Boon Tong Shrine – Street procession in Phuket Town, from 7am
Fire Walking Ceremonies
Sun October 18:
Saphan Hin – 8:09pm
Sui Boon Tong Shrine – 9pm
Ban Tha Rua Shrine – 8pm
Yokkekeng Shrine – 8pm
Sapam Shrine – 9pm
Tuesday, October 20:
Bang Neow Shrine – 9pm
Samkong Shrine – 8pm
Cherng Talay Shrine – 8:09pm
Wednesday, October 21:
Kathu Shrine – 3pm
All throughout the festival, a range a ceremonies are held at participating shrines all across the island, with their own schedule of events. For example, some of the events to be held on Monday, October 19 include:
Bladed-ladder climbing at Bang Neow Shrine – 8pm
Bladed-ladder climbing at Samkong – 8pm
Oil bathing and tying children’s wrist at Ban Tha Rua Shrine – 8:45pm
Bladed-ladder climbing at Cherng Talay Shrine – 7:59pm
Nail bridge crossing at Sapam Shrine – 8pm
The last day of the festival, this year October 21, is traditionally one of the most active of the entire annual event.
All those who strictly followed the 10 rules of the festival will cross the bridge of purification set at each shrine. They then will be “rewarded” with a stamp on their shirt or t-shirt as proof of their commitment.
The “crossing of the bridge of purification” at each shrine is held between 6pm and 8pm.
The last ceremony of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival is certainly the most impressive. Between 9pm and midnight, all shrines join a street procession in Phuket Town: the Nine Emperor Gods Farewell.
Each shrine involved in the festival has an Emperor God. The latest procession aims to accompany them to Saphan Hin, from where they will leave Phuket.
During the festival, all people taking part are called on to observe 10 rules, as follows:
Maintain clean bodies during the festival.
Clean kitchen utensils and use them separately from others who do not participate in the festival.
Wear white during the festival.
Behave physically and mentally.
Do not eat meat or other animal-based products.
Abstain from sexual activities.
Do not consume alcoholic beverages.
People in a mourning state should not partake in the festival.
Pregnant ladies should not watch any of the rituals.
Ladies having their period should not attend the ritual.
For the full list of all the activities to be held during the festival,visit PhuketVegetarian.com.