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“Limit the level of torturing” at Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival, mayor says

Caitlin Ashworth

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WARNING: Content below contains graphic images of self-mutilation that some may find disturbing.

While Phuket’s annual Vegetarian Festival was given the “okay” to move forward with plans, the event will need to abide by “new normal” rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. So called “mah songs,” who often practice self-mutilation to enter a trance-like state and channel spirits, have been asked by Phuket’s mayor to “limit the level of torturing.”

During street processions at the week-long festival, many mah songs walk for hours while practicing self-mutilation with any number of sharp, and larger, object pierced through their cheeks and other parts of the body. Some walk for hours, repeatedly slicing their tongue with a sword, blood dripping onto the ground. But Phuket’s City Mayor Somjai Suwansupana said on radio yesterday that the mah songs are being asked to “limit the self-mutilating acts” at this year’s festival set to start this weekend.

“Mah song must try to limit the level of torturing they endure and display and people must wear face masks at all times.”

Whether or not the mah songs, and the spirits that allegedly possess them, will co-operate is yet to be seen.

All ceremonies will be under the “new normal” measures, Somjai says. Children are not allowed at the ceremonies at the shrines and the number of people at each ceremony will be limited, he says. Firecrackers will also be prohibited, unless they are used as part of a ceremony.

“Those who join the ceremony in the shrines will have to wear face masks, maintain social distance standards between one another, wash hands as often as possible, and avoid unnecessarily crowded areas as much as possible.”

For the vegetarian food, Somjai says the municipality will coordinate with the Phuket Public Health Office to check the food stalls, making sure vendors are using quality ingredients and cooking safely.

 

"Limit the level of torturing" at Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival, mayor says | News by Thaiger "Limit the level of torturing" at Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival, mayor says | News by Thaiger "Limit the level of torturing" at Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival, mayor says | News by Thaiger "Limit the level of torturing" at Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival, mayor says | News by Thaiger "Limit the level of torturing" at Phuket's annual Vegetarian Festival, mayor says | News by Thaiger

SOURCE: Phuket News

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    1 Comment

    1 Comment

    1. Avatar

      Bangkok Gary

      Sunday, October 18, 2020 at 10:14 pm

      Self mutilation is absurd.

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    Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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