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See The Faces Of Devotees At The Annual Vegetarian Festival In Phuket

Slitting open their cheeks and forcing everything from guns, to electrical wire, to giant knives and even axes through the holes, these are the ritual vegetarians of Phuket celebrating their annual festival.

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Vibrant processions through the streets of the Thai island pit hundreds of devotees against each other in how far they can stretch their cheeks.


It is believed that by piercing their skin they are helping to ‘purify’ their bodies of evil spirits.

Most of the festival-goers, devotees of the Chinese Samkong shrine and the Chinese Ban Tha Rue shrine, choose to force weaponry through their cheeks, but others seem to have opted for anything they can find around their homes.

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The festival, held during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, sees followers celebrate their abstinence from meat, by which they hope to obtain good health and peace of mind.

Mediums also attempt to call on spirits during the festival, which lasts for nine days.

Ritual vegetarianism in Phuket is believed to have started in the early 1800s.


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