The bright and strange festival that is held yearly in Phuket attracts thousands of spectators.
This extraordinary event is held in Phuket yearly at the end of September or early October, the date is fluctuating from year to year and the exact timetable can be referenced at the Festival’s official website here: http://www.phuketvegetarian.com.
The Vegetarian Festival includes festive corteges and ceremonies, but taking part in them is reserved only for people following these strict rules: besides the normal humanistic “thou-shall-not-kill”, “thou-shall-not-steal” or “thou-shall-not-lie”, the participants must not swear, fight, argue, eat meat, drink alcohol, take drugs, smoke, gamble or have sex.
Pregnant women are forbidden from even watching the rituals - it is not surprising, seeing as such ceremonies have serious effect on the fragile psyche. The thing is, this Festival’s ceremonies are often followed by self-flagellating and self-inflicted torture - particularly when the Thai Chinese join the rituals. They often fall into religious trance, pierce their cheeks and lips with sharp things and cut their tongues with axes. These guys seriously believe that this masochism earns them special favor from gods, who will also keep them from getting really hurt during the Festival.
One look at these people with mutilated faces can be horrifying, however, this is what makes the Festival so popular - like a train-wreck you can’t look away from, this terrifying event gathers spectators from all over the world.
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