Not For Faint-hearted
The Phuket (Thailand) Vegetarian Festival is a colourful event held over a nine-day period in October every year. One of the most exciting aspects of the festival is the gruesome acts of self mortification undertaken by devotees. Men and women pray in the local Chinese temple before puncturing a hole on their cheeks and hang with various items including knives, skewers, metal tools, and other household items. They believe that by doing so, they invite the spirit of gods to possess their bodies, the gods will protect them from harm, and grant them good fortune in the coming year.
Though the origins of the festival are unclear, it is commonly believe that the festival was bought to Phuket by a Chinese opera group who fell ill with malaria while performing on the island. They decided to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet and pray to the Nine Emperor Gods and surprisingly they made a complete recovery. The people began to celebrate by holding a festival and street processions take place. Subsequently the festival has grown and developed into a spectacular yearly event that is attended by thousands with participants from both local and overseas visitors.