© Reuters. People take part in the Bang Neow Shrine procession during the annual vegetarian festival, observed by Taoist devotees from the Thai-Chinese community in the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, in Phuket, Thailand October 1, 2022. REUTERS/Jorge Sil
PHUKET, Thailand (Reuters) – Hundreds of devotees flocked to temples and staged processions to celebrate the annual vegetarian festival this week on the island of Phuket in southern Thailand, being held for the first time after the COVID-19 pandemic eased.
Worshippers mainly from the local Chinese community pierce their faces and walk over hot coals in the name of purification.
They also give up meat, sex and alcohol in the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar to achieve good health and peace of mind, in a tradition that goes back 150 years.
“It’s like we have done our part in paying respect to the gods, our mentor,” said one devotee, who gave only her nickname Pop.
“It’s part of a merit-making ritual and in return, I feel that my life has gotten better.”