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Organisers meet for the 2022 Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Jui Tsui shrine in Phuket Town
Jui Tsui shrine in Phuket Town during vegetarian festival

In about 1 month Phuket will be halfway through its annual, and rather iconic, Phuket Vegetarian Festival. This year the festival is being held from September 26 – October 4.

Usually considered a cultural free-for-all in regards to the potentially dangerous stunts and body-piercings, the organising committee has reminded participants that they will be required to remain vigilant against any further spread of Covid-19.

Whilst skewering your face with a javelin spear or large knife, and walking across red-hot coals, and exploding firecrackers within metres of unprotected participants is OK, joining in without a face mask is not OK.

The meeting was held at the Phuket Provincial office on Monday as the Ministry of Culture reminded organisers of the DMHTT measures (D – Distancing, M – Mask wearing, H – Hand washing, T – Temperature check, and T – Thai Chana contact tracing application. We note that Thai Chana has already been deactivated months ago).

Participants have also been told that they’ll be required to have been vaccinated against Covid-19 (we would suggest some need Tetanus as well!) and will be required to social distance and undergo temperature checks. Temple administrators will be required to ensure that participants maintain the Covid-19 precautions.

The Mah Song, the ‘possessed’ spiritual mediums that head up the many local processions, are exempt from wearing a face mask, presumably protected by the ‘spirits’ (the non-alcoholic spirits… then again…).

Organisers are also being asked to ‘limit’ Vegetarian Festival activities this year.

“Shops will be forbidden to sell firecrackers, except for part of the festival and there will be no playing with fireworks or firecrackers as they have been deemed ‘dangerous’ by the provincial authorities.”

The annual Vegetarian Festival in Phuket always starts off at the Jui Tsui Chinese Shrine in Phuket Town when the Chinese spirits and gods come down to participate in the 10 day festival. The festival is famous for its vegetarian food (of course, the rather noisy and spectacular processions, and the fire-walking displays. The feature of the 10 day festival are the Mah Song, local people who are ‘possessed’ for the week and undergo bizarre and dangerous body piercings which can vary between small steel skewers and much larger objects (probably don’t take the kids to watch these processions!)

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