Returning to Thailand’s premier beach holiday destination on October 15, this nine-day festival is a journey of purification and atonement. The entire town comes alive with vibrant yellow flags, symbolizing the commencement of this profound spiritual retreat.
On the eve of the festival, monumental poles are raised at 40 Chinese shrines scattered throughout Phuket. The Nine Emperor Gods of Taoism are invited to descend from the heavens and participate in these sacred ceremonies. This intimate local affair has its origins in a bygone era when the island was a haven for Chinese immigrants and Australian miners.
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The festival traces its roots back 150 years when a mysterious epidemic struck a small Chinese-speaking community in Phuket. Desperate for answers, they sought the counsel of a wise elder and discovered their neglect in paying homage to the Nine Emperor Gods of Taoism. In response, the locals erected temples and initiated a vegetarian festival to dispel any lingering misfortune. Astonishingly, their efforts proved effective, and this annual ritual has continued ever since.
Visitors can anticipate vibrant processions, the aromatic scent of burning incense, delectable vegetarian cuisine, and the serenity of peaceful chants. However, amidst the tranquility, there exists a darker side—the festival is renowned for its eerie procession of self-mutilated devotees.
The pinnacle of the festival is reached when devoted participants carry their altars to the gods on October 9. The grand procession of deities winds its way through the historic town, bestowing blessings upon the faithful before returning to the heavens. As the festival draws to a close, thousands of individuals come together to ignite an awe-inspiring display of firecrackers, a symphony of sound that resonates through the night.
Plan your trip
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival takes place from October 15 to 24 annually. For detailed information about this sacred event and its thrilling processions, contact the TAT Southern Office: Region 4 at (076) 211 036, 212 213, or 217 138, or visit www.phuketvegetarian.com.
Convenient flights are available from Bangkok to Phuket International Airport, with direct routes from numerous other regional airports including Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, along with direct charters to Europe and Australia during the peak season.