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Taking the bang out of this year’s Vegetarian Festival

Tim Newton

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This year’s Vegetarian Festival will still be taking place between October 20 – 28. But organisers have been asked to ‘tone it down’ (how do you tone down the Vegetarian Festival?!) and restrict parades until the last day only in respect of the funeral for the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok.

Whilst the festival is meant to be about ridding the island of evil spirits, cleansing yourself, new-beginnings and vegetarian food, the street parades and ritual mutilation, spirit-possessed Ma Songs and the sound and smell of fire-crackers is what most of us remember about the festival. The food, honestly, is uniformly forgettable.

White is the symbolic colour for the entire festival. By wearing white it shows respect for the local customs and will be appreciated by those involved. The white pants and T-shirts are cheap and easy to find around Phuket Town during the Festival if you want to get geared-up like a local. Also, if you are going to get close to the parades on the final day, wear eye-goggles. If you haven’t yet experienced Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival then you have something amazing awaiting. It’s an assault on all your senses and, sometimes, not for the faint-hearted.

The annual festival, always falling in the month of October, is also known as the The Nine Emperor Gods Festival, a nine-day Taoist celebration beginning on the eve of 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. The festival is also observed in the town of Yishun, Singapore and in other Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia by the local Chinese communities.

In Thailand, this festival is called thetsakan kin che (Thai: เทศกาลกินเจ), the Vegetarian Festival. It is celebrated throughout the entire country, but the festivities are at their height in Phuket, where about 35% of the population is Thai Chinese. It attracts crowds of spectators because of many of the unusual religious rituals that are performed.

SOURCE: Wikipedia, Phuket Gazette Legacy

- Tim Newton

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,200 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 360 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and now produces digital media for The Thaiger - Website, Radio, TV, Instagram and Facebook.

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Thailand’s Rabies death toll up to 14 this year

The Thaiger & The Nation

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The death of a 19 year old in Buri Ram, to the east of Bangkok on the Cambodian border,  and a 55 year old in Rayong, east of Pattaya, has raised the death toll in Thailand as a result of Rabies this year to 14. Both deaths occurred over the past two weeks.

Dr Suwannachai Watanayingcharoen, director general of the Disease Control Department, says a 19 year old man in Buri Ram, who’d been bitten back in April on the shoulder and chest by a dog, was not vaccinated against rabies.

The same situation with a 55-year-old woman in Rayong, bitten by a stray dog in January, who opted for “magical” treatment from a practitioner of traditional folk medicine rather than go to hospital.

Suwannachai says the two people had died of rabies this year in Buri Ram, two in Rayong and one each in Surin, Songkhla, Trang, Nakhon Ratchasima, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phatthalung, Nong Khai, Yasothon, Kalasin and Mukdahan.

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Same-sex civil union bill ready for Cabinet in two months

The Thaiger & The Nation

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A same-sex civil partnership law should be drafted and discussed before next year’s elections.

Pitikarn Sitthidech, the Rights and Liberties Protection Department chief, saystThe law, allowing same-sex couples to formally register as life partners, should be drafted by September.

It would then be submitted to Deputy PM and Justice Minister ACM Prajin Juntong, who would decide whether it should go to the Cabinet, she said.

Pitikarn says the sub-panel drafting the legislation that’s been hailed by some as a progressive step towards the legalisation of gay marriage would meet on July 25 to review its 63 articles. Panel members were likely to make adjustments, she said, some based on the experiences of other countries that have adopted similar legislation, such as Mexico, South Africa, Canada, Australia and Britain.


Pitikarn Sitthidech – Rights and Liberties Protection Department chief 

The bill will then be forwarded to the Rights Department’s law development committee for further tweaking in September, and then to Prajin, Pitikarn said. She pointed out that the process in some countries had taken up to 10 years, but Prajin wanted to fast-track Thailand’s version because of the many LGBT (lesbian, gay, transgendered and bisexual) citizens who deserve the same rights as everyone else.

Pitikarn said Prajin had insisted that the authors of the legislation understand the situation in society well and the sensitivities involved. He wanted guidelines set out to support the status of same-sex life partners registered in other countries who were now living in Thailand to ensure they enjoyed the rights to which they were entitled.

Prajin wanted it made clear which agency would handle registrations once the law comes into effect. And he expects the law to lay the foundation for the legalisation of gay marriage.

“Since the ministry began moving forward on this law, we have received good feedback from the LGBT community and a 60,000-name petition expressing support for the action, as well as much useful information,” Pitikarn said.

“I believe many more people are passively supporting this law – the many who haven’t yet expressed their LGBT status.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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Thaiger Radio News – Monday

The Thaiger

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