November 2012 by Ultimate guide to Thailand

Thailand is full of surprises, rituals, cultures, and traditions. None so is more apparent than the Vegetarian Week Festival held on the 9th Chinese Lunar month of every year around the month of September or October, depending on when the 9th month falls in a Chinese Calendar year. 

The Chinese Buddhist brought over the veneration and practice of Vegetarian Week from China during an incident at Kathu, the new location of Phuket town in 1825. In the incident, a Chinese opera troupe fell mysteriously sick and a change to a vegetarian diet with sacred rituals honoring two of the Emperor Gods was invoked. Seemingly cured of their malady, the town’s folk were surprised and curious where one thing lead to another and the embracing of the tradition was eventually assimilated into Thai society. 

This celebration is especially important in Phuket where there is a large population of Thai Chinese and the origins of the temple where the first ritual was held. Parts of the requirements by devotees from the temples are the self-inflicting methods of piercings with various sharp and even blunt objects through the cheeks and skin. It may seem like a very barbaric way of devotion but for the devotees the sacrifice of pain is a way of cleansing their body and spirit, which is believed to bring good fortune to them and their families. 
The week long celebrations are often accompanied by processions, the carrying of the statues of the Gods, demonstrations of the sacred rituals by temple devotees, deeds of merit, observation of a strict vegetarian diet and ending in a finale of firework displays on the last day.IT is a vibrant and colorful affair everywhere in Thailand but more so in Phuket. This is also the time when vegetarians and vegans alike will have a great time trying out the many vegetarian dishes on offer, from the swanky restaurants all the way to the street food stalls. 

Trying the Thai vegetarian diet for a few days just might change your mind about your regular diet! It is very easy to spot a shop or outlet selling vegetarian food; they normally display this littler triangular yellow flag with red wordings, if you are not sure then just ask the vendor if this is a "Jay" dish! The basis of a vegetarian dish is that most of the simulated "meat" is from soy and gluten products but most of them really do look like a meat dish and your discerning palate just might be fooled into thinking it is!


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Writer: Pen Drageon

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