Phuket Vegetarian Festival

I’m not a vegetarian. Mainly because I like the way food tastes and I don’t have a personal vendetta against my body. So when I hear about this thing called the Phucket Vegetarian Festival, I immediately dismiss it as some sort of hippy convention that shows off the latest type of tofu and gives an excuse as to why the chefs aren’t very sanitary. Little did I know the festival was as much about vegetables as Burning Man is about a burning man.

The story goes like this: thousands of years ago a Chinese opera group travelled to Phucket, Thailand for a show. They became ill and the Phucket locals suggested they wear white and eat like vegetarians as a remedy for their sickness. It worked, and a festival was born. Yes the vegetables are there, set aside on some table in the corner. The real wonder is how this health-minded tradition evolved into a competition for who could tolerate the most pain and/or damage to their faces (be advised that the video has extremely graphic content).

At the beat of a drum, some of their people start to lose control of themselves, as if with every bang another dark spirit takes their place inside them. This entity drives them to block out pain while other partakers stick knives, needles and other unnatural objects into their possessed faces. The pain they feel must be almost as unbearable as the thought of becoming a vegetarian. But who are we to judge the taboos of such a society. If they believe the sacred rituals bless them with good fortune, then so be it. The whole thing is a great analogy for life. Sometimes you just gotta let go of yourself, say “Phucket” and bear through the pain.