The Phuket Vegetarian Festival

    An Amazing Festival...


Phuket is not only known for its beautiful beaches and warm nights on Bangla Road, but also for its amazing Vegetarian Festival, which takes place every year according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

Many young and old are taking part in this event and marching through the streets of the city in a deafening noise: a mixture of folk music and firecrackers, all with a very strong Chinese influence.

Every year, therefore, this Festival takes place on the island of Phuket and the participation is always very important but also taken very seriously.

Tourists come in large numbers to bathe in this very special atmosphere. 

For photo lovers, it is certain that the possibilities are enormous as long as they are not afraid to mix and brave the explosion of firecrackers, smoke, crowds....

  The 2019 Festival Program

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival will take place on the following dates:
from 29 September to 7 October 2019
The detailed programme will be presented here as soon as possible

The Opening Ceremony

Every year... a big opening ceremony takes place. Here we are at the Jui Tui Temple in Phuket-Town... this ceremony takes place from about 3pm and brings together an impressive number of speakers, participants and curious people. This ceremony takes place in all relevant temples in the city of Phuket.

In the morning, before this great ceremony, the mast is in a horizontal position and people come to deposit small gold leaves on it with a little prayer.

Vegetarian Foodservice during the festival...

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival... as the name suggests, it is above all nine days of strict nutrition: vegetarian meals, no alcohol, no sex... decorated streets, with rows of vegetarian "food" stands. There is something for everyone and the atmosphere is always very friendly, very pleasant. 

While processions generally only take place in the morning, the stands are open all day long... from early in the morning until late in the evening...

  Audience "spectator" or "actor" is according to...

During the processions which always take place in the early morning (around 7am) the audience along the streets is always very large. Public composed of local people or public composed of tourists... it is the Thai people who are by far the most numerous...


Well, so far, it's been cute.... a lot of people, a lot of noise...
Nothing particularly exceptional, rather banal although very typical in fact.
However, from now on......

sensitive souls: click on the "back" button of your browser!

If there is one attraction in Phuket that can surprise many people,
it is indeed the daily processions of the Sino-Thai (mediums) in trance in the streets of the city.

Surprising, surprising, almost disgusting to some, frightening to others,
this ancient practice takes place every year and only in Phuket.

Hats off to these "mediums" and their entourage who are overflowing with imagination
every year to find such surprising objects to pierce the cheeks through and through....

From the simple steel bar, to the flower basket, to the sword, the wrought iron, the big bicycle lock... and even a snake etc...

What an imagination!

 Before the Processions... the "Piercing" moment...

Perforation... this conical bar is only used to perforate the cheek... it's not only boys who get "pierced"...

  Ow ow ow ow.....


The most impressive moment in a procession is the perforation, whether in the cheek, ear or tongue...

The utensil used to perforate the skin is a very sharp and thin cone like a needle at first, then the diameter of the cone becomes larger in order to create a hole for the placement of an object that had to be chosen at length by the person concerned and his family. Of these "tools", there are different dimensions. 

It is an important moment for the "medium" and impressive for the spectator.

The question regularly asked: do these people suffer during these piercings which are done without local anaesthesia... are they under the influence of drugs? I never really got to know it and it remains difficult to know it.

I know that they are in a "trance" a kind of second level... they are no longer themselves, however when we watch the video that is part of this file, at the end of the film, we can observe a participant moaning in pain as he extracts his objects... 

It still takes a lot of masochism to do that.

  Daily Processions through the streets of Phuket

Each temple in Phuket has its procession on a specific day and defined according to a well-established program. This program is available on the Internet. These processions originate from the organizing temple, then cross the streets of the city in a rather impressive noise and an incredible crowd, often to reach the Saphan Hin district which is most of the time, the final point of the procession.

These processions are of course impressive, but for a photo enthusiast, it is an exciting moment, rich in colours, ideas and sensations.

Access is very easy to photograph, no barriers, no limits if not courtesy and respect for others... everything happens despite the noise and the crowd, in a clear and calm mind. It couldn't be easier.

 Running on Embers....

At some point, a charcoal evening is organized... before that, people of course go through the temple to say their prayers... then charcoal fireplaces are created, fireplaces releasing an incredible heat that you feel when you are more than 20 meters away... 

The ceremony that precedes the crazy race, is of course impressive with noise, violence, with participants completely in their own world... 

Later, the crazy amateurs... find themselves lined up like penguins and go several times, running on this burning, red hot fireplace... pure madness... besides it is better to run and fast... rather than hang out.

The Closing Ceremony

The Closing Ceremony that takes place in the evening of the last day is one of unheard-of violence. Around 10pm, the streets in the centre are black with people, firecrackers fly, fall, burst in the middle of the crowd... These photos were taken at the Surin Roundabout, near the Metropole Hotel, in the heart of the city. Sensitive souls do not abstain for the percings (there is no piercing during this evening) but the parade of troops, as they pass, is accompanied by a rain what I say, a tornado of firecrackers unimaginable. I've never seen so many firecrackers or firecracker smoke at this point in my life. It's indescribable, it's inexplicable.... 

As they say... you have to live it to know what it is.

At this evening, it is better to be protected: mask than mouth because of the smoke, clothes: long pants, long-sleeved sweet, a cap, glasses, protect your camera if you have one...

Anyway... if you're more of a fearful type, good advice, stay home that night.  

sign