The Vegetarian Festival in Phuket officially begins tomorrow but there are already events going on this afternoon and evening at a number of Chinese shrines. Between 16:00 and 17:45 most of the shrines will hold a Lantern Pole Raising — the lanterns will be lit at midnight to mark the start of the actual festival. The Jade Emperor & Nine Emperor Gods Propitiation will occur between 23:00 and 24:00 tonight at either the shrines or Saphan Hin (for Bang Neow Shrine) and Surin Beach (for Cherng Thalay Shrine).
I plan to check out the activities at Jui Tui Shrine on the western edge of Phuket Town, although I have yet to purchase my white attire (required if you want to visit the shrines during the festival). During my bus ride to Pedang Besar on Saturday, I observed procession banners and decorated shrines throughout southern Thailand; I understand it’s also celebrated on a large scale at Penang in Malaysia (where a similar Hindu festival is held concurrently, part of which I may be lucky enough to attend as I’ll need to return there within the next two weeks).
I’m looking forward to attending a large number of Vegetarian Festival events this year as I live in great proximity to a number of the Chinese shrines and I believe at least a couple of the processions will be passing along the street outside. I particularly want to view the firewalking and bladed-ladder climbing this year as I’ve always missed them! I should also be able to wake up early enough to attend a few of the pre-procession piercings — one needs to arrive at the shrine by around six in the morning to observe these.
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