Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Lady in Phuket Vegetarian FestivalThe Phuket Vegetarian Festival is held annually during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. In 2012, this happens from the 15th to the 23rd of October at various Chinese shrines and temples around Phuket.
This festival has been celebrated for decades and is believed to bring good fortune and good luck to those who observe its rites and rituals.
Local resident, mostly of Chinese descendants, observe a strict vegetarian diet during 10 days. They believe that this will clean their spirit and body.
But what most observers will remember of this festival are the impressive sacred rituals performed by some believers.
Walking barefoot on hot coal, ascending and descending from ladders with bladed rungs, and of course, the self mutilation shows with different blades, knives and any pointed instruments that can pierce the skin.
Still, what is interesting about this festival, is its essence: The vegetarian diet !
What do we know about it and why and how it came to be popular among many Asians and Westerners?
The earliest records of vegetarianism come from ancient India and ancient Greece in the 6th century BCE. In the Asian instance, the diet was closely connected with the idea of non violence towards animals and was promoted by religious groups and philosophers. Among the Hellenes and Egyptians, it had medical or ritual purification purposes.
But vegetarian diet nearly disappeared for centuries before resurfacing around in the 19th century, especially among the monks.
In the past few decades, vegetarian diets became more and more popular in the western world due to the rising concerns about global warming, industrial farming and animal cruelty. These are the typical reasons that lead people to opt for a vegetarian diet instead of a typical carnivorous one.
Phuket Vegetarian FestivalVegetarian diets are also often believed to be more healthy than typical meat rich diets.
Studies have shown very contradictory results, some arguing in favour of vegetarian diets supposed to lower heart rate diseases, lower body mass index, lower levels of cholesterol and lower type 2 diabetes, and others against them pointing out a higher risk of eating disorders, deficiency in vitamin B12, increased risk of osteoporosis and depression.
It is finally up to us to choose what we want to eat, and the vegetarian festival in Phuket is maybe the occasion to broaden our menu, and include some new dishes that can only be found during the festival.
Of course, Indian restaurants such as “Navrang Mahal” offer a large choice of vegetarian dishes on their menu. So why don’t you simply give it a try, we are sure that you will like it !