The vegetarian festival, which is celebrated in Phuket every year, is among the most unique festivals in Thailand. It is a Chinese tradition that meat should be avoided during this period, in order to purify the body and soul and to have strong health. At the same time, the festival has another aspect: the celebrants decorate their bodies with sharp objects that pierce their skin and face. Curious? We have gathered vital information about Phuket Vegetarian Festival.

What is the Vegetarianism Festival?

The KIN JE vegetarian festival lasts about ten days. It is held according to the Chinese calendar and is celebrated on the first day of the ninth month. In fact, if you are planning a holiday in Thailand in October or September, you will probably be able to watch the festival closely. During the festival, and in previous days, locals refrain from eating meat and milk, alcohol, eggs, spicy spices and other food products. According to the belief, abstinence from these foods, combined with a visit to the Buddhist temples, purifies the body and mind. Since there are quite a few foods that are not allowed to eat during this period, locals prepare various vegetarian dishes in advance.

During the festival, quite a few tourists come to Phuket, who want to take part in the vegetarian festival. In addition, during the festivities, many booths with vegetarian food are scattered in Phuket.

The festival originates in Chinese tradition

The immigration of quite a few Chinese to Thailand brought with it a variety of unique traditions, including the vegetarian festival. Today, part of the Chinese community is concentrated in Phuket, with half of the residents of Phuket being residents of Chinese origin. In fact, it is a Chinese folk tradition, combined with the religious characteristics of Buddhism. Every morning, the participants come to the Buddhist temples for meditation and prayer, wearing white clothes (as symbols of abstinence), skewers and sharp objects in their faces, holding baskets rich in food from nature, in a kind of procession that attracts the attention of passersby. During the procession, as they pass among the various temples, many locals throw fireworks at them, because smoke removes the negative energies and bad spirits.

But why in Phuket?

According to the popular story, when a Chinese band arrived in Phuket (opinions differ between a group of theater actors or a group of opera singers), quite a few people, including some members of the band, died as a result of the plague. The survivors prayed to the gods and tried all the medical means at their disposal, but nothing changed. The Chinese believe that cleansing the body is done by avoiding certain foods, including meat, so they began the process of purification, leading to a significant reduction in the spread of the epidemic. To this day the Chinese community believes that the vegetarian festival purifies their bodies and prevents the epidemic from reaching Phuket again.

The vegetarian festival in Phuket does sound like a unique culinary festival, but it is actually a traditional Chinese custom that purifies the body and soul. The Chinese calendar is not compatible with the Gregorian calendar, so if you are going to Thailand between September and October, you should check out the latest festival dates so you can watch a traditional festival and get to know the local culture.