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Religious devotees slash themselves with swords and pierce their cheeks at the vegetarian festival

Nobody is completely sure where the origins of the extreme rituals that take place at the vegetarian festival  in Phuket that lasts for the first nine days of the ninth lunar month to worship the Chinese Gods, but it is commonly thought that the festival was brought to Phuket by a wandering Chinese opera group who fell ill with malaria while performing in Thailand. They decided to only eat a vegetarian diet and pray for the Nine Emperor Gods to ensure purification of the mind and body.  Legend has it that to the great surprise of all present the opera group made a swift and full recovery. A festival was held to thank the Gods that has continued to this day.

During the festival the shocking rituals involve religious devotees slashing themselves with swords, piercing their cheeks with sharp objects, walking on coals and climbing ladders made from blades to purify themselves and taking on the sins of the community. It is believed that these acts will bring them good fortune and that the Chinese God’s will protect them from harm.

This year the festival is taking place from the 5th the 13th of October and during this period hotels are experiencing record bookings.

If you have not already visited the festival and can’t make the last couple of days, here is a video for you to ‘enjoy’!

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