The Phuket Vegetarian Festival (or Nine Emperor Gods Festival) happens once a year, during the ninth lunar month, and is one of the most auspicious events on the island.
For this unique occasion a crowd of devotees assemble in every Chinese shrine around the island, followed by an even bigger horde of photographers avid to get the shot of their life.
The Vegetarian Festival is an internationally known event, and while it also happens in a modest way in Bangkok around the same dates, it is really a Phuket event.
The dates change every year, as it’s based on the Chinese lunar calendar. In 2018 the date will be October 8 to 17.
Swords, axe handles, kebab skewers and even a model boat were among the bizarre array of objects pushed through devotees’ cheeks as southern Thailand’s gruesome vegetarian festival got under way.
Many Chinese communities across Southeast Asia go vegetarian this week for the annual Taoist “Nine Emperor Gods” festival but few do it with quite the gusto and shock factor of Phuket’s inhabitants.