Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vegetarian Festival

Today marks the start of bpit term, or school break, and it was a nice little treat to lay in bed for an extra hour before committing to putting on pants. Perhaps the only reason I did this day was because I told Nadia that I would find some tape for her for a demo lesson as part of a job interview for a local school.

On an entirely different topic, for nine days and nights, there is the Vegetarian Festival that occurs all over Thailand. It began about a week ago, and you can see on any given day many people dressed in white, gatherings at Chinese temples, people consuming vegetarian food (go figure), fireworks, and a host of other activities.

Essentially the story is that a Chinese opera troupe were working in Phuket, entertaining Chinese miners and fell so ill during their time there, they were forced to stop performing. Some of this group observed that they had not been paying attention to their religious duties since arriving in Thailand and were therefore receiving punishment for their sins and negligence. They responded by not eating meat or animal oil and performing religious rites for nine days and nights to purify their minds and bodies and rid them of evil. The troupe members noted improvements in health, to which the community noticed, and more people partook in these actions the following year, and thus was born the Vegetarian Festival. It has changed over the generations, most notably with the addition of self-mutilation. Mediums engage in very dangerous acts (piercing, walking on coals and/or sharps, body cutting) to show the power of their gods and rid themselves of bad luck. You can read more details about it here.

So, our story of tape and self-mutilation now become intertwined. While biking through town to find some tape, I noticed a larger amount of people engaged in festival activities. After obtaining my precious tape, I figured it would be a good time to play faux-photojournalist and see what I could find. Instead of me explaining, please look for yourselves.
Performing rituals in front of a shop
Covered in his own blood from cutting his tongue

Behind him you can see a table with offerings. The men cutting themselves accepted them, perhaps because they are mediums
Festivities at a local Chinese temple
Someone potentially revered? I saw them earlier blessing (?) the
guys cutting themselves.
Vegetarian food! Super delicious. Didn't have to worry about finding a piece of
mystery meat chillin' in my food.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, the hideous things that people do in the name of religious superstition...