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Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival. Put it in your diary – VIDEO

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: Caitlin Ashworth

WARNING: The content below contains photos and videos of self-mutilation that some people may find disturbing.

Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival is on this month. Officials say they are asking participants to strictly observe social distancing. Good luck with that! For those who don’t know, despite its name, the festival isn’t exactly known for the vegetarian food. It’s better known, even infamous, for body mutilation, noisy parades and Chinese heritage.

During street processions for the weeklong event, also known as the Nine Gods Festival, so called “mah songs” are known to practice self-mutilation and are said to enter a trance-like state, channeling spirits through their body. “Mah” means horse in Thai, and many suggest the mah song acts like a horse for the spirit to ride.

Many mah songs pierce their checks, ears and lips, some with large swords and thick needles. Some slice their tongues continuously for hours, blood dripping down on the street. Others appear to be in a trace walk barefoot as firecrackers explode on the ground.

Mah Songs march down Phuket’s streets for hours with a team of devotees to help tend to their wounds, adjust the piercings, wipe away drool and blood, and keep them hydrated. It’s understood that devotees wear white as a symbol of purity. It’s also reported that they abstain from eating meat, drinking alcohol and having sex during the weeklong festival.

It seems gruesome, but it’s actually very spiritual. Business owners and locals line the street, some setting up altars. Mah songs stop at each one and do a quick ritual. Some mah songs carry a black flag, waving it over onlookers who bow their heads and place their hands in the “wai” position. Some spend time blessing the elderly and handing out bracelets to children. During a procession last year, a woman held up a bracelet as said “the ‘Spirit’ gave this to my mother.”

This year, the festival will have to be a little different to abide by coronavirus prevention measures. The Bangkok Post says it’s the first festival since the outbreak. The head festival organiser Prasert Fukthongphol says “we will seriously enforce social distancing measures and require all participants to wear face masks.”

The grotesque piercings, noisy parades and visits to the shrine, are good news for Phuket’s tourism and bad news if you’re a vegetable. Many adherents to the Chinese-heritage local festival will go without sex, alcohol and meat for the week of so of the festival. The week of events and ceremonies hopes to scare away the bad gods again but, especially this year, attract some extra visitors to the festival.

Another Vegetarian Festival in Chon Buri has also been given the green light. The event is planned for October 16 to the 26. This year’s main event for the festival will be in Naklua at Sawangboriboon Thammasathan Foundation at the Sein Sua Chinese Temple, but many other events will be around the city throughout the week.

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival. Put it in your diary - VIDEO | News by Thaiger

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival. Put it in your diary - VIDEO | News by Thaiger

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival. Put it in your diary - VIDEO | News by Thaiger

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival. Put it in your diary - VIDEO | News by Thaiger

Phuket's annual vegetarian festival. Put it in your diary - VIDEO | News by Thaiger

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | Pattaya News

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Friday, September 25, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    It is some sort of perversion made legitimate by a fake religion.

    IMHO

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

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.

Events

Tuesday’s full moon will be a SUPER full moon

Tim Newton

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Tonight there will be a full moon. But not just ANY full moon, a SUPER full moon. Whoooaaa!

Whilst Koh Pha Ngan’s monthly full moon party has been shelved for the meantime, we can still appreciate this monthly phenomenon (well, not quite monthly). The The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand says that the April astronomical phenomenon coincides with the perigee – the point in the orbit of the Moon which is nearest to the earth – so that the full moon will appear larger-than-usual. But we’re only talking a few percent bigger and brighter.

This fluctuation in the full moon’s distance from Earth is caused by the fact that the moon’s orbit around the Earth isn’t perfectly circular but very slightly elliptical. If the full moon occurs closer to the perigee (the closest point to Earth on this slightly elliptical orbit), it can appear bigger than if it occurs closer to the apogee (the farthest point).

If you’re a flat-earther you’ll have to come up with your own explanation.

The NARIT says tonight’s the moon will rise in the east from 7pm (of course the Moon always rises in the east). Of course the clouds from the early arrival of the wet season in parts of Thailand will either make the viewing impossible or perhaps more spectacular.

The NARIT has a few tips to get a great photo of tonight’s phenomenon… Use telephoto lens with focal length over 300mm and set your camera’s ISO at 400 or over.

And if you miss this supermoon, we’ll do it all again next month on May 26. This one will be even closer to the Earth and therefore slightly bigger, although the difference will still probably be impossible to spot.

Tuesday's full moon will be a SUPER full moon | News by Thaiger

Tuesday's full moon will be a SUPER full moon | News by ThaigerFor more information, visit HERE.

 

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Events

Lest we forget – ANZAC Day 2021 for Australians and New Zealanders

Tim Newton

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ANZAC Day, April 25, is when Australians and New Zealanders commemorate and remember those who fought for their countries and the Commonwealth with the origins of the event forged in the crucible of war at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915. It is the most solemn day in the annual calendar of those two countries and usually commemorated with dawn services in both countries, by expats around the world, at at Gallipoli in Turkey.

Again, this year, Aussies and Kiwis are honouring the fallen at a distance, in Thailand and in other countries as well where social distancing is currently the norm. But the spirit of the ‘diggers’ and other soldiers lives on as we thank them for the service to their nations.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

Below, Mick Clarke, the manager at Hellfire Pass war cemetery and museum in Kancahaburi, western Thailand near the Burmese border, lays a wreath at dawn this morning.

PHOTOS: Military History Kanchanaburi

Lest we forget - ANZAC Day 2021 for Australians and New Zealanders | News by ThaigerLest we forget - ANZAC Day 2021 for Australians and New Zealanders | News by Thaiger

 

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Thailand

Burmese students to hold Bangkok cultural event to support Civil Disobedience Movement

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Stock photo via Flickr

Burmese students in Thailand are holding an art and culture concert to raise awareness and funds for the Civil Disobedience Movement. The concert, called “Myanmar Spring,” will be held on April 24 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. The event will help fund the movement, which has staged protests over the February 1 coup in Myanmar by the military. It will honour the families of internally displaced individuals and of those who have lost their lives in the conflicts.

Last Friday, the Myanmar military allegedly killed 82 civilians, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an advocacy group. The military then told the families of those killed that they would have to pay US$85 to recover their loved ones’ bodies, according to Bago University Students’ Union’s Facebook page as well as Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service.

Eyewitnesses in Bago say the Burmese military used grenades, RPGs, and assault rifles to quell anti-coup protestors, forcing many villagers and activists to flee and go into hiding. Military security forces are going through the neighbourhoods now and have cut off internet access. Since the February 1 coup, the military has been systematically cracking down against peaceful protesters, detaining 3,000 civilians and killing over 700 more.

NGO Human Rights Watch had published a call for the EU to take action and implement strict sanctions on the Burmese military on Thursday. And yesterday the US Embassy in Myanmar joined the call, posting on Twitter, urging peace.

The art and cultural event will also be held virtually on the same day. Anyone wishing to support the event outside of attending can buy t-shirts at the food festival being held on April 13. The orchestral music concert will be performed by a group of student volunteers and others. There will also be a poetry recital and other heartfelt performances, which the artists say will reflect the struggles for democracy in Myanmar.

Information on tickets and performances for “Myanmar Spring” is on their Facebook page HERE.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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