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Phuket Vegetarian Festival dates announced

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Phuket Vice Governor Prajiad Aksornthammakul announced the dates of this year’s Vegetarian Festival, as well as a special prayer ceremony to honor HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, earlier this week.

The nine-day festival is slated to take place from October 1-9. The event attracts thousands of visitors to Phuket to witness the festivities, which include fire-walking, bladed-ladder climbing, hundreds of stalls fully stocked with vegan foods and processions at locations throughout the island.

“I have urged all relevant people to make sure public safety comes first, and especially to keep an eye on dangerous firecrackers and illegal activities during the festival,” said V/Gov Prajiad.

“We will be especially vigilant on October 2, when a special prayer ceremony will be held at Saphan Hin for the good fortune of His Majesty.”

The Vegetarian Festival, or jia chai as it is known in local Hokkien Chinese, began in 1825, when the governor of Thalang, Praya Jerm, moved the island’s principal town from Tah Rua in Thalang district to Get-Hoe in Kathu district, where there were many tin mines and Chinese miners.

Kathu at that time was still covered in jungle and fever was rife. It happened that a travelling opera company (called ngiu in Thai or pua-hee in the Hokkien dialect) came from China to perform for the miners.

When the whole company fell sick from an unnamed malady, they kept a vegetarian fast to honor two of the emperor gods, Kiew Ong Tai Teh and Yok Ong Sone Teh. The sickness afflicting the opera troupe then disappeared.

This greatly interested the people of Kathu, who asked how it was done. The answer was that ritual vegetarianism, with its attendant ceremonies, had been the remedy, and as a result, people embraced the faith enthusiastically.

As the sun sets on the first night, all Chinese shrines taking part in the annual Vegetarian Festival will raise their go-teng poles so that the jade emperor, among the nine emperor gods, can descend from the heavens, heralding the beginning of this year’s event.

Meanwhile, cooks at food stalls around all participating shrines will begin preparing vegetarian fare, which will be provided throughout the festival.

Further details on parades and celebrations will be made available soon.

— Chutharat Plerin

 

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

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