Vegan Food for Your Mind and Body
The whole reason that people eat vegan food for the festival is to purify their mind and body. It’s a tradition that dates back nearly 200 years when legend has it that a group of visiting performers managed to rid themselves of malaria by praying to the ‘9 Emperor Gods’ and eating vegan food. Local people then began to celebrate this every year with a festival, going vegan during this time to achieve spiritual purity.
The cleansing of body and spirit through eating vegan food is accompanied by following other precepts such as abstaining from drinking, stealing, gambling, lying and wearing leather.
So far all quite compatible with veganism, but this is where it ends.
The main focus of the festival are the ceremonies that take place, the most shocking of which involves mediums, or ’mah-song’, performing acts of self-mutilation whilst channelling spirits before going on a procession through the town with other devotees.
We witnessed ‘mah-song’ getting pierced through their cheeks with knives, skewers and swords as well as more unusual objects like toy helicopters, palm leaves, lollipops and fire extinguishers. Some had sharp axes that they used to repeatedly slice their tongue or cut themselves on the back or forehead as they walked. Men and women of all ages took part in the procession, stopping to bless houses and people along the route.
We hope our shocking pictures from the Phuket Vegetarian Festival don’t put you off your food…