Today at work Ligeia went to her usual vegetarian eatery on campus to find a very long line, longer than she had ever seen before. In contrast, the other food stalls were not busy at all. Did everyone suddenly go vegetarian? The short answer is “yes”….well, at least for 10 days that is.
After doing some research online, we found that there is a Vegetarian Festival, most popular in Phuket but also practiced in other parts of Thailand, Burma, Laos and Cambodia. In order to bestow good fortune upon themselves local residents of Chinese ancestry become strictly vegetarian or vegan for 10 days, aiming to spiritually cleanse and make merit.
This temporary diet is accompanied by fireworks, drums and the parading of Chinese gods in the streets. All this sounds like a rather typical festival, until you read about Ma Song, literally translated as entranced horses. People will display this by bathing in boiling oil, walking over hot coals, or climbing ladders with bladed rungs. Several entranced people will puncture their bodies, usually around the facial area, with swords, skewers and the like. Why do people do this you may ask. It is said that people engaging in this type of display are actually occupied by a god during that time and can gather both strength and wisdom from the experience.
The pictures of this are rather extreme and are not for everyone, so we’ll let you look this up on your own and you can be in control of just how much you can take. Google “Phuket Vegetarian Festival” and browse at your leisure.
We are proud to maintain our vegan diet, but not to worry – we don’t anticipate on participating in the more daring aspects of this festival, even though the participants of such acts report no pain. Is there at least hangover pain? We’re not in a rush to find out.
We’re off to Laos for 10 days so stay tuned for more Asian adventures!
Mindy and Ligeia :):)