The dates for the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival have been announced, with the world-renowned event this year to be held from Oct. 1-9.
Phuket Vice Governor Prajiad Aksornthammakul announced the dates for the 2016 Vegetarian Festival at a meeting at Provincial Hall on Thursday, and vowed that security at the festival will be a top priority, in light of the recent bombings.
Vice Gov. Prajiad said, “This festival is one of Phuket’s oldest festivals. It aims to preserve cultural heritage and pass on traditions to the next generation,” he said.
“We set up 11 committees, headed by the Phuket Governor, to organize the festival. The committees will oversee areas such as security, traffic, public health, medical units, firecracker control and more to keep things running smoothly during the festival.”
“Security will be our top priority and all officials involved in this event have been advised. We will increase security measures, especially on October 2, when we will hold a prayer ceremony at Saphan Hin,” he concluded.
The annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival is held over nine days, usually in October. The event celebrates the beliefs of the Chinese community in Phuket that abstinence from meat, alcohol, sex and stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar honors the gods and will deliver devotees good health and an elevated state of spirituality.
Among the best-known aspects of the festival are the various — and sometimes gruesome — ceremonies held to invoke the gods, including fire-walking, body piercing and other acts of self-mutilation by Mah Song devotees, who are “possessed” as mediums of the gods for the duration of the festival.
Bangkok City Hall has not yet announced the dates for the Bangkok version of the festival, which is held in Chinatown, usually over the same dates.