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A Phuket vegetarian warrior with both Taoist and Muslim shrines

Phuket Vegetarian Festival, October 17-26

Friday, October 9, 2009
MODERNITY mixes with the mystical at Phuket's Vegetarian Festival this year with entranced warriors being issued with ID cards before they are possessed by spirits.

The move is aimed at avoiding having too many large and inappropriate objects speared through the cheeks of participants in the daily temple piercings and street parades.

The official mah song, or entranced warriors, have had to register this year on Phuket for the first time. So far 350 have signed up and been issued with plastic cards that carry their full name, portrait and their 13-digit Thai ID number.

The names of the god that will inhabit them, the helping friends who will assist them and the temple to which they are attached are all included.

Organisers anticipate the cards will be carried by conventional means, probably in the pockets of traditional warriors' aprons.

For the first time this year, the number of Phuket Chinese temples rises from 16 to 18 with the addition of Rawai, in Phuket's south, and Tungka, in Phuket City.

As well as invading ghosts, the festival brings an estimated 200 million baht to boost the island's own spirits. It's one heck of a way to warm up for the high season, which begins in prosperous years on November 1 but has been mostly delayed lately until December 1.

Proceedings for the nine-day festival actually start one day earlier on October 17 with the popular Pole Raising Ceremony at Jui Tui temple in Phuket City and at other shrines at precisely 5.09pm.

A growing number of Western people who display more permanent (if not yet entirely conventional) body piercings are expected to be among the international visitors attracted by the festival.

More traditional visitors from places where the history of the Chinese rituals is the attraction will be on 27 direct flights from Guangzhou, Shanghai and Kunming, Singapore and Malaysia.

Chinese Taoist temples can also be found in the neighboring provinces of Phang Nga and Krabi as well but the most elaborate, colorful and noisy ceremonies come at the Phuket temples, especially those near Phuket City.

The final night, when the invading spirits are driven back out to sea, brings hundreds of adherents dressed in white to the older parts of the island's capital and the parades and the explosions of fireworks continue until after midnight.

Among the most unusual mah song entranced warriors is one who lives in Kathu and who becomes inhabited each year by the spirit of a departed Muslim, an imam who was greatly respected in the neighborhood.

In the warrior's home, Taoist and Muslim shrines sit side by side. Although he knows no other language except Thai, the warrior is said to be able to recite passages from the Koran while possessed.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand reports that about 60 percent of the 38,000 rooms available on Phuket have already been reserved for the festival period. Almost certain to be fully booked are the 4200 rooms in Phuket City, especially during the last three days.

Ranong Road near Jui Tui and Samkong are probably the two most popular places for vegetarian food, with Ranong Road converted to a walking street and Samkong becoming more difficult for through-traffic because of the erection of scores of canopied street stalls.

Scores of yellow roadside flags signifying the festival's arrival are already fluttering all over Phuket.

See the Vegetarian Festival from October 18-26.

October 17

KATHU SHRINE
17.00 Lantern Pole Raising
24.00 Jade Emperor & Nine Emperor Gods Propitiation

JUI TUI SHRINE
17.09 Lantern Pole Raising
23.09 Jade Emperor & Nine Emperor Gods Propitiation

BANG NEOW SHRINE
17.00 Warriors Propitiation & Lantern Pole Raising
22.00 Jade Emperor
23.00 Nine Emperor Gods Propitation at Saphan Hin

SUI BOON TONG SHRINE
16.00 Lantern Pole Raising
24.00 Jade Emperor & Nine Emperor Gods Propitiation

SAMKONG SHRINE
17.45 Lantern Pole Raising
24.00 Jade Emperor & Nine Emperor Gods Propitiation (Yog Ong Song Tae & Kiu Ong Tai Tae)

BAN THA RUE SHRINE
17.00 Lantern Pole Raising
24.00 Jade Emperor & Nine Emperor Gods Propitiation

CHERNG THALAY SHRINE
16.59 Lantern Pole Raising
21.09 Jade Emperor Propitiation
23.00 Nine Emperor Gods Propitiation at Surin Beach

YOKKEKENG SHRINE
17.00 Lantern Pole Raising
22.30 Jade Emperor Propitiation
24.00 Nine Emperor Gods Propitiation

SAPAM SHRINE
17.45 Lantern Pole Raising
24.00 Jade Emperor & Nine Emperor Gods Propitiation

October 18

KATHU SHRINE
05.00 / 18.00 Worship of Gods

JUI TUI SHRINE
Worship of Gods

SUI BOON TONG SHRINE
20.00 Worship of Gods

SAMKONG SHRINE
Worship of Gods

BAN THA RUE SHRINE
12.00 / 19.00 Worship of Gods

CHERNG THALAY SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
18.00 Worship of Gods

YOKKEKENG SHRINE
Worship of Gods

SAPAM SHRINE
17.45 Birth-Death Gods Propitition at Saphanhin

October 19

KATHU SHRINE
05.00 / 18.00 Worship of Gods

JUI TUI SHRINE
Worship of Gods and Spirit Propitiation of Past Participants of the Vegetarian Festival.

SUI BOON TONG SHRINE
20.00 Worship and Propitiation of Gods

SAMKONG SHRINE
Worship of Gods

BAN THA RUE SHRINE
17.00 Worship of Gods

CHERNG THALAY SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
18.00 Worship of Gods

YOKKEKENG SHRINE
20.00 Worship of Gods

October 20

KATHU SHRINE
05.00 / 18.00 Worship of Gods
16.00 Warriors Propitiation
16.30 Food Offering to Warriors
19.30 Birth-Death Gods Propitiation

JUI TUI SHRINE
19.30 Food Offering to Warriors
20.45 Birth-Death Gods Propitiation

BANG NEOW SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors

SUI BOON TONG SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
20.00 Worship of Gods

SAMKONG SHRINE
15.09 Food Offering to Warriors
20.00 Propitiation of Seven Stars

BAN THA RUE SHRINE
17.30 Food Offering to Warriors
18.30 Birth-Death Gods Propitiation

CHERNG THALAY SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
15.30 Blessing Bang Tao Village
19.00 Worship of Gods

YOKKEKENG SHRINE
15.30 Food Offering to Warriors
20.00 Birth-Death Gods Propitiation at Koh Sirey Beach

SAPAM SHRINE
07.00 Street Procession in Phuket town
15.45 Food Offering to Warriors

SAPAM SHRINE
20.00 Worship of Gods

October 21

KATHU SHRINE
05.00 / 18.00 Worship of Gods

JUI TUI SHRINE
Worship of Gods and Spirit Propitiation of Past Participants of the Vegetarian Festival

BANG NEOW SHRINE
Spirit Propitiation of Past Participants of the Vegetarian Festival

SUI BOON TONG SHRINE
20.00 Worship of Gods

SAMKONG SHRINE
05.30 Worship of Gods
07.19 Street Procession in Phuket Town
12.00 Worship of Gods
18.00 Worship of Gods

BAN THA RUE SHRINE
12.00 / 19.30 Worship of Gods

CHERNG THALAY SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
15.30 Blessing Manik and Cherng Thalay Villages
19.00 Worship of Gods

YOKKEKENG SHRINE
07.30 Worship of Gods
20.00 Worship of Gods

SAPAM SHRINE
Worship of Gods

October 22

KATHU SHRINE
05.00 / 18.00 Worship of Gods
19.00 Oil Bathing & Bladed - Ladder Climbing

JUI TUI SHRINE
Worship of Gods

BANG NEOW SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
20.00 Propitiation of Seven Stars

SUI BOON TONG SHRINE
20.00 Worship of Gods
24.00 Propitiation of Gods

SAMKONG SHRINE
05.30 Worship of Gods
15.09 Food Offering to Warriors
18.00 Worship of Gods

BAN THA RUE SHRINE
07.30 Street Procession in Phuket Town

CHERNG THALAY SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
20.09 Propitiation of Seven Stars
23.00 Worship of Gods

YOKKEKENG SHRINE
07.30 Worship of Gods
20.00 Worship of Gods

SAPAM SHRINE
19.00 Street Procession in Sapam Village

October 23

KATHU SHRINE
05.00 Worship of Gods
16.00 Food Offering to Warriors
18.00 Worship of Gods

JUI TUI SHRINE
15.09 Food Offering to Warriors
20.09 Fire Walking at Saphan Hin

BANG NEOW SHRINE
07.00 Street Procession in Phuket Town
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors

SUI BOON TONG SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
19.00 Worship of Gods
21.00 Fire Walking

SAMKONG SHRINE
05.30 Worship of Gods
15.09 Food Offering to Warriors
18.00 Worship of Gods

BAN THA RUE SHRINE
17.00 Food Offering to Warriors
20.00 Fire Walking at Shrine

CHERNG THALAY SHRINE
05.30 Worship of Gods
07.30 Street Procession in Thalang District
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
19.30 Worship of Gods
21.30 Random Selection to Find Servants to Priests in the Next Vegetarian Festival

YOKKEKENG SHRINE
07.30 Worship of Gods
15.30 Food Offering to Warriors
20.00 Fire Walking at Shrine

SAPAM SHRINE
15.30 Food Offering to Warriors
21.00 Fire Walking at Shrine

October 24

KATHU SHRINE
05.00 Worship of Gods
16.00 Food Offering to Warriors
18.00 Worship of Gods
19.00 Propitiation of Seven Stars

JUI TUI SHRINE
08.00 Street Procession in Phuket Town
21.09 Propitiation of Seven Stars

BANG NEOW SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
20.00 Bladed-Ladder Climbing

SAMKONG SHRINE
05.30 Worship of Gods
15.09 Food Offering to Warriors
18.00 Worship of Gods
20.00 Bladed - Ladder Climbing

SUI BOON TONG SHRINE
19.00 Worship of Gods
21.00 Propitiation of Seven Stars

BAN THA RUE SHRINE
20.00 Propitiation of Seven Stars
20.45 Oil Bathing, Tying Children's Wrist

CHERNG THALAY SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
19.59 Bladed-Ladder Climbing
23.00 Worship of Gods

YOKKEKENG SHRINE
20.00 Propitiation of Seven Stars

SAPAM SHRINE
20.00 Propitiation of Seven Stars
20.00 Nail Bridge Crossing
Oil Bathing

October 25

KATHU SHRINE
05.00 Worship of Gods
07.00 Street Procession in Phuket Town
12.00 Worship of Gods
16.00 Food Offering to Warriors
18.00 Worship of Gods

JUI TUI SHRINE
20.09 Bridge Crossing for Purification

BANG NEOW SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
20.00 Fire Walking at Shrine
22.00 Random Selection to Find Servants to Priests in the Next Vegetarian Festival

SUI BOON TONG SHRINE
20.00 Food Offering to Warriors
24.00 Propitiation of Gods

SAMKONG SHRINE
05.30 Worship of Gods
15.09 Food Offering to Warriors
18.00 Worship of Gods
20.00 Fire Walking at Shrine

BAN THA RUE SHRINE
18.30 Street Procession in Thalang District

CHERNG THALAY SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
20.09 Fire Walking at Shrine
21.30 Worship of Gods

YOKKEKENG SHRINE
07.00 Street Procession in Phuket Town (join in Kathu Shrine's Procession)

SAPAM SHRINE
Worship of Gods

October 26

KATHU SHRINE
05.00 Worship of Gods
09.30 Random Selection to Find Servants to Priests in the Next Vegetarian Festival
15.00 Fire Walking at Shrine
16.00 Food Offering to Warriors
18.00 Worship of Gods
19.30 Bridge Crossing for Purification
24.00 Siva & Nine Emperor Gods and Birth-Death Gods Farewell

JUI TUI SHRINE
15.09 Food Offering to Warriors
23.09 Siva Farewell
23.45 Nine Emperor Gods Farewell at Saphanhin

BANG NEOW SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
18.00 Bridge Crossing for Purification
22.00 Siva & Nine Emperor Gods Farewell

SUI BOON TONG SHRINE
07.00 Street Procession in Phuket Town
20.00 Worship of Gods
21.00 Bridge Crossing for Purification
24.00 Siva & Nine Emperor Gods Farewell

SAMKONG SHRINE
05.30 Worship of Gods
15.09 Food Offering to Warriors
19.00 Bridge Crossing for Purification
23.09 Siva Farewell
24.00 Nine Emperor Gods Farewell at Saphanhin

BAN THA RUE SHRINE
17.30 Food Offering to Warriors
20.00 Bridge Crossing for Purification and Siva & Nine Emperor Gods Farewell at Nai Yang Beach

CHERNG THALAY SHRINE
05.30 Worship of Gods
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors
18.30 Bridge Crossing for Purification
21.30 Siva Farewell
22.09 Nine Emperor Gods Farewell at Surin Beach

YOKKEKENG SHRINE
07.30 Worship of Gods
15.30 Food Offering to Warriors
20.00 Bridge Crossing for Purification
22.30 Siva Farewell
24.00 Nine Emperor Gods Farewell at Koh Sirey Beach

SAPAM SHRINE
19.45 Bridge Crossing for Purification
22.45 Siva & Nine Emperor Gods Farewell

October 27

KATHU SHRINE
17.00 Lantern Pole Lowering
17.30 Warriors Farewell

JUI TUI SHRINE
17.09 Lantern Pole Lowering

BANG NEOW SHRINE
15.00 Food Offering to Warriors and Lantern Pole Lowering

SAMKONG SHRINE
17.09 Lantern Pole Lowering

BAN THA RUE SHRINE
16.45 Lantern Pole Lowering

CHERNG THALAY SHRINE
16.30 Food Offering to Warriors
17.00 Lantern Pole Lowering

YOKKEKENG SHRINE
16.00 Food Offering to Warriors
16.00 Lantern Pole Lowering

SAPAM SHRINE
15.45 Food Offering to Warriors
15.45 Lantern Pole Lowering
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