Phuket Vegetarian Festival begins with traditional Go Teng pole raising

The golden Go Teng pole that was raised at the Guan Yu shrine. Photo courtesy of The Phuket News

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival kicked off yesterday with the traditional ceremony of raising the Go Teng poles at each participating shrine. The act is a symbolic invitation to the Jade Emperor and the Nine Emperor Gods to descend from the heavens and spend the subsequent nine days on Earth.

The golden Go Teng pole was hoisted at the Guan Yu Shrine in Chalong, marking the beginning of the festival. Rewat Areerob, the President of the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO), was present at the ceremony held at Guan Yu Shrine, which is the southernmost of the significant Chinese shrines participating in the festival.

The Guan Yu Shrine, nestled in a small street commencing from the Soi Ta-Ied / Chao Fa East Intersection, is slated to host one of the first Iw Keng street processions. This shrine has three street parades on its festival agenda, set to occur from October 16-22.

The inaugural parade is set to launch at 7.30am tomorrow and will pass through the Nabon and Palai communities east of Chao Fa East Road. As the followers will be walking around the village off the main roads, this procession is unlikely to impact traffic significantly.

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The second, significantly larger parade, is planned for the day after tomorrow, starting at 7am. Participants will begin from the Guan Yu Shrine and travel to the Chalong Circle, making a U-turn at Mueang Phuket PPAO School, before proceeding to Karon.

This event offers tourists in the Kata/Karon area a unique opportunity to observe the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, as no other shrine has activities planned in Karon. Due to the lengthy and challenging route from Guan Yu Shrine to Karon and back, the procession will involve vehicles.

Third parade

The third and last Iw Keng parade in Chalong, organised by the Guan Yu Shrine, will take place on October 22, commencing at 7am. The route will follow Chao Fa East Road only and is predicted to result in traffic congestion, akin to the October 18 procession.

Devotees, including Ma Song spiritual mediums, will start from the shrine and head north until reaching Wichit Municipality (near the PTT and Shell gas station). They will then U-turn and head south to Chalong Circle. From there, the devotees will return to Guan Yu Shrine in Nabon, walking along Chao Fa East Road once more.

For a comprehensive list of events at Guan Yu (Nabon) Shrine, one can check out the timetable on the shrine’s Facebook Page. The shrine will host its Fire Walking Ritual on October 20 (starting at 9pm) and Bridge Crossing Ritual on October 23 (starting at 8pm), among other events.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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