The Vegetarian Festival in Phuket, Thailand isn’t entirely what you’d expect from a festival with such a family friendly name…. Now don’t get us wrong, there probably are numerous vegetarian stands serving up countless hotpots of delicious veggies and healthy crunchy snacks. You’d need them, because attending the festival on an empty stomach is not recommended. The festival (which dates back to the 1800s) commences on the first night of the 9th lunar month and lasts for 9 days in total in the Kathu district. It’s roots stem from the supernatural beliefs of the Chinese tin mine workers who settled in Phuket during that era. During the Chinese 9th lunar month, Phuket itself was hit with an epidemic that claimed countless lives and destroyed numerous families. The legend is that the Chinese tin mine workers had forgotten to pay homage to the Nine Emperor Gods (Kiu Ong Iah) in the first nine days of the month – leading to the epidemic and heavy loss of life. And thus, next year the Chinese followed the tradition of refraining from eating meat, drinking alcohol, engaging in sex, arguing or even telling lies. Spookily enough, the epidemic ceased, and each year since, the people of Phuket have continued to celebrate the festival. The majority of participants at the festival perform extreme acts of body modification and body piercing – their face, arms and any other area by way of appeasing Kiu Ong Iah, many of them claim to being possessed during the act. Mysteriously enough participants apparently feel no pain, and show little no sign of real injury. Word of warning: Reader discretion is advised, the images you’re about see contain graphic content.
World’s Most Disturbing Religious Festival