Hungry Ghost compete with Phuket Vegetarian Festival

PHUKET: As thousands of celebrants and devotees take part in the many Phuket Vegetarian Festival activities currently underway across the island, hundreds of people turned out yesterday to make merit for their ancestors for the Southern Thai festival Sart Duen Sib.

The center of celebrations for the Sart Duen Sib was at the Wat Kajonrangsan temple, also known as Wat Nua or Wat Kajon, on Ranong Road in Phuket Town. The temple is about 80 meters from the Jui Tui Shrine, which serves one of the main centers for the Vegetarian Festival.

Hundreds of people arrived to offer food and traditional desserts to monks as a way of making merit to appease the ghosts of ancestors on the main day of the festival, called Sart Thai Day.

The main day of the festival is held on the new moon at the end of the 10th lunar month, hence the “Duen Sib” (literally “10th month”) in the festival’s name.

Sart Thai Day, especially celebrated throughout Southern Thailand, usually coincides with the beginning of the nine-day Vegetarian Festival and is widely observed by Thai Chinese and other Thais.

To celebrate the annual ceremony this year, monks at Wat Kajonrangsan created statues of the renowned hungry ghosts, or “Pret”, to remind people to do good deeds if they don’t want to end up as Pret in the afterlife.

“We made the statues in order to teach everyone, especially the youngsters, to do good things. According to Buddhist beliefs, people who do a lot of bad deeds in their lives will have to pay that ‘bad karma’ back for thousands of years before they can be reborn again as humans,” said Phra Palad Prasit, the abbot’s assistant at the temple.

“Pret are believed to be tall and skinny. They moan and scream and make eerie noises because they are hungry. When people make merit, some part of the food will go to the hungry ghosts before going to their ancestors,” he explained.

There are 12 Pret statues, all made from papier-mache with help from local residents, posted around the temple.

“The people who have come to make merit at our temple have been really interested in these statues. We hope the statues are a good way of scaring people and preventing them from doing bad things,” Phra Palad Prasit said.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

Phuket News
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