This October 14, Phukets famous Vegetarian Festival begins and lasts for 9 days. Dating back to 1825, this festival is a true cultural experience. The participants beleive that participating in the events and rituals bestows good fortune upon them. Sacred rituals are perfomed in various shrines (mainly in the Phuket town area – Around 15-20 minutes from Serenity) by the devotees of Thai Chinese origin. The history of the festival originates in the early 1800s when a Chinese Opera came to perform for Thai miners working in Phuket and when the entire group of performers fell sick, they all restrcited themselves to a strict vegetarian diet to honor the Emperor Gods. When their sickness disapeared, the locals began following this ritual once a year to bring good luck to its participants.
Be Warned – the festival is not for everyone to witness, especially not for the faint at heart. The tranced participants, belonging to local shrines, parade the streets while walking on burning coals, piercing their bodies, and other acts of self mortification. Specially prepared Vegan dishes can be found all over Phuket towns food stalls and markets during this event.
For those who want to preview the event, here is a short video. Please dont watch this if your not up to seeing the tranced locals doing their thing.
Here is a link to the formal Thai Tourism Authority 2012 Phuket Vegetarian Festival Guide with lots of details on what, how, when, etc. Phuket Vegetarian Festival – Complete 2012 Guide