One of the reasons why I loved Phuket was the Vegetarian Festival. The festival is held only once a year during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. It is a spiritual cleansing event where Thai locals with Chinese ancestry observe a strict vegetarian diet for 10 days. The origin of this event goes back more than a century when the Chinese workers invaded Phuket. An epidemic happened during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar that killed a lot in the community. To them, it was caused because they failed to pay homage to the Nine Emperor Gods during the first nine days of the month. So the next year, the Chinese community cleansed, reflected and pay homage to keep the Gods happy by not eating meat, killing animals, lying, cheating, killing, drinking and abstaining from sex. The epidemic ended and so the festival began.
Chinese Temple in Phuket town
The event is very colorful yet a bit horrifying seeing “mah songs” or the horses of the gods walking down the street with different dangerous, large, and pointed instruments thrusting through their cheeks. The ceremonies are very colorful, wild and loud. There are a lot of fireworks and loud drumming because they believe that the louder it is, the better it is to drive away the evil spirits. The mah songs are said to be “possessed” with the gods and have supernatural powers and torture themselves to shift the evil spirits onto them and to bring good luck to the community.
All the restaurants and street food stalls put up a yellow banner indicating their participation for the festival. As a participant of the event, one is also required to wear white as a sign of cleansing. Other strict rules also apply during this event. Aside from at least three days of completely going vegetarian, cleansing and maintaining a clean body and mind, women who have periods or pregnant are not allowed nor can watch the event. Luckily, I wasn’t one of them so I was able to watch the event and eat delicious Thai vegetarian food.
Me grinning ear to ear for what I’m about to eat! I’m a happy and proud vegetarian!
It’s quite contradicting to the fact that I was in an island and should be on the beach, rocking a slim body. Umm, didn’t happen. Nine out of the 10 days I was in Phuket, I was very busy…. eating. How could I ever pass an event like this that was made for vegetarians in Thailand. Veggie food + Thailand= one happy Anna.
And more street foods!
I’m shameless to proclaim my love for Thai tea which I had every single meal!
I’ve never been a vegetarian all my life. I grew up in the Philippines which is a meat-lovers country. It’s almost impossible to find real vegetarian restaurants back home. When I announced that I am a vegetarian, all my relatives and family members were in a state of shock as if somebody has died. I experimented and switched my diet almost three years ago while living in the US and never looked back since. One of the reasons why I love traveling in Buddhist countries is the availability of vegetarian food. I don’t think anybody will ever argue with me that Thailand has the best food in South East Asia. I’m big on eating and even my friends tease me on how much I eat.
This is why I get mistaken as Thai~ with my favorite people in Phuket!
Being in Phuket or Thailand in general is such a treat for vegetarian travelers. This is one of the biggest reasons why among all the places I visited Thailand is my favorite country. Just writing about this post makes me hungry. Now off to get myself a delish lunch at my favorite Veggie restaurant here in Chiang Mai. Tata for now!