Connect with us

Opinion

Opinion: Phuket Shrines Association chief explains spirit of Veg fest

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

PHUKET: Prasert Fakthongphol, 68, is the founder and president of the Phuket Shrines Association. He was born and raised in Phuket and has a vocational certificate in business studies from Dusit Commercial College in Bangkok. He has been the president of the association since 2001 and also owns a transportation company.

Here, he talks about the real purpose and tradition behind the controversial Phuket Vegetarian Festival.

The vegetarian ‘festival’ is not really a festival at all, but rather meant to be a tradition. The main purpose behind it is taking a break from killing and bringing trouble to others’ lives. Above all, it helps you keep yourself out of trouble.

This is specifically a Phuket tradition, not a common Thai tradition. We have been carrying on this tradition for thousands of years. It does not differentiate between people, so it does not matter who you are or where you are from. Anyone who would like to join is welcome to participate.

In Phuket, we call it ‘Jia Chai’ but it’s not wrong to use the word ‘Jeh’ either. The important thing is to avoid eating animal flesh. Some people participate so they can have delicious food, while others hold cooking competitions, but that is not the real purpose of this tradition.

It started in Phuket more than 200 years ago. China discontinued it when they moved toward communism. They prohibited the use of candles and incense because it was considered a ‘wasteful’ practice. So that’s how the tradition disappeared from China.

Jia Chai principles are described in detail, but nobody is forced to do anything. It depends solely on the individual and how strictly he or she wants to observe it. If you choose to forego animal flesh, then you may. However, if you are willing to do more, it will help you.

The principles dictate that you must stay calm at all times. This entails not speaking unnecessarily while the nine-day tradition is being observed. You must also keep your body clean and your mind at peace.

To have your mind at peace, you must take a break from the physical aspects of life – taste, smell and sound. This is why you must only consume boiled vegetables, as the purpose of the tradition is not to have delicious food.

You can pray no matter what language you speak. It does not matter what religion you practice, as this tradition transcends religion.

We do not receive any support from the government and work purely on the basis of donations. The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) keeps an eye on local governments to make sure they do not give money to shrines.

The government does not support this tradition because it is not considered a part of Thai culture. However, we are Thai and we do practice it. I was born here and I love Thailand. Our ancestors are from China, but that does not mean we belong there. This is the culture of our ancestors that we are carrying on.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand promotes us, but does not provide us with any other support. We have been practicing this tradition for 200 years. It is not a festival that you may stop anytime you want. It is a Phuket tradition, yet the government is not supporting us.

Local governments are trying to help us but their hands are tied, as they have to follow the policies laid out by the central government.

We are only allowed to use the weapons described in legend, as each God has their own weapons. If anyone uses modern weapons, we would prefer not to have them join the parade. We don’t want guns and advertising signs. We understand that teenagers want to show off, but we try our best to keep an eye on such activities.

We cannot control anybody’s behavior, but people who really want to practice during these nine days will always find a way to do it right. There are hundreds of vendors participating and we cannot keep an eye on all of them. They are allowed to sell whatever they please, but I can only hope that they sell the right food so people who come to Phuket can learn what the vegetarian festival is really about.

— Chutharat Plerin

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand5 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Phuket resort land encroachment case; OnlyFans arrest calls for reform| Sep 27

Thailand6 hours ago

Monday Covid Update: 10,288 new cases; provincial totals

Guides7 hours ago

Local resturants you can’t miss when travelling to Ayutthaya

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)8 hours ago

Thailand reduces quarantine to 7 days for fully vaccinated arrivals from October

World8 hours ago

Australian official suggests borders may re-open by Christmas

Thailand8 hours ago

Gilligan’s Island, Farangs, Grammar and Onlyfans | Thaiger Bites | Ep. 26

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Guides8 hours ago

Travel hacks for a stress-free holiday in Thailand

Thailand8 hours ago

Consumer complaints hotline targets rip-off shopkeepers

Thailand9 hours ago

Phuket Car rental business says gang rented cars and then sold them off

Guides9 hours ago

A guide to Doi Inthanon National Park

Bangkok9 hours ago

Curfew shortened, Bangkok spas, gyms, cinemas can re-open from October

Tourism9 hours ago

TAT pushes for Indonesia, Malaysia to be added to approved list for Phuket sandbox

World10 hours ago

Powerful earthquake strikes near the Phillippines main island

Guides10 hours ago

Top business and investment opportunities in Thailand

Thailand10 hours ago

OnlyFans arrest sparks calls for reform of prostitution and pornography laws

Thailand2 weeks ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending