Vegetarian Festival begins

PHUKET: Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival has begun with the raising of bamboo go teng poles at each participating temple. Gods are then invited down the poles to join in the celebrations. Shrines around the island performed the same ceremony at exactly 5:09 pm Sunday.

Minister of Energy Viset Jupibal chaired the opening ceremony at Phuket City’s Jui Tui Shrine, with more than 1,000 white-clad devotees in attendance.

Before raising the go teng poles, devotees affixed gold leaf to them. At midnight nine lanterns were hung from the poles to signal the festival’s opening.

Two important gods, Yok Ong Hong Tae and Kiew Ong Tai Tae, were also invited down at midnight to preside over the ceremonies.

Ceremonies throughout the October 3-11 festival include the invocation of the gods Lam Tao (god of the living) and Pal Tao (god of the dead). There are planned processions with the gods’ images, with mediums bathing in hot oil, climbing sword ladders and walking on glowing coals.

The festival ends with merit-making ceremonies at each temple and farewell ceremony for the gods on the last night when the displays of fireworks are at their most impressive.

Throughout the festival ceremonies fireworks are lit and drums are sounded. It is believed that the louder they are, the more effective the ceremony is as the noise is said to drive away evil spirits.

Participants keep to a strict vegetarian diet for a varying number of days, usually no less than three. They are also instructed to refrain from alcohol, sex and the killing of animals.

Phuket News
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