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Police gear up for Veggiefest 2008

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET CITY: With the start of the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival just a month away, Phuket City Police met representatives of all participating Chinese shrines to ask for their co-operation in keeping this year’s event as safe and orderly as possible.

Attending the meeting on August 25 were Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Chalit Tinthanee, Phuket City Police Superintendent Nos Svettalekha and Phuket City Traffic Inspector Teerawat Leamsuwan.

A key issue was traffic control, especially during the many street processions that are the highlight of the festival.

Lt Col Teerawat Leamsuwan said most – but not all – of the shrines had adhered well to the predesignated routes during last year’s processions. He asked the shrines to provide good guidance to the many mah song (spirit mediums or, literally, “entranced horses”) expected to take part in this year’s processions.

“I am afraid accidents could happen if the mah song wander off while their bodies are possessed by spirits, so it is very important that their handlers keep them on the correct route,” he said.

He also requested that weapons, such as swords and bayonets, commonly used by mah song be kept to reasonable lengths.

As for roadside stalls selling vegetarian fare, he said canopies could extend a maximum of 1.5 meters from the curbside to allow traffic to pass.

All vendors must display a certificate issued by a participating shrine to prove they have paid the necessary commissions. All violators, including those who set up stalls outside the designated zones, face serious fines, he warned.

“As for cars and trucks taking part in the processions, we need an advance list of all vehicles and their license plate numbers. These will be checked in order to prevent sound trucks and commercial vehicles from joining in for advertising purposes,” he said.

As in previous years, the police said that only traditional Chinese firecrackers in strips would be allowed during the street processions.

This year’s festival will officially run from September 29 to October 7, starting with the raising of the Ko Teng polls on the night of September 28.

For more information about the dates and times of the street processions and other activities visit www.phuketvegetarian.com

 

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