The only time of the year when street food in Phuket and all of Thailand turns from various exotic fish and meats to delectable vegetables is when the Phuket Vegetarian Festival is held every year in the month of September and early October for 9 days.

This culinary celebration of vegetarian dishes has a history that dates back more than 200 years when a Chinese opera group and others in the island fell ill while performing in the Island, due to an endemic, Malaria.

The group abstained from consuming meat for a week and offered prayers to the Nine Emperor God’s who they believed would cure their sickness. This opera group was cured of all their ailments and a festival was born to honor of the gods who cured them.

The ceremonies of this festival take place in 6 Chinese temples scattered in the surrounding areas throughout Phuket. Jui Tui temple, which is close to the fresh Market, acts as the main temple for these festivities.

The festival begins with people preparing themselves by abstaining from meats and alcohol and engaging in spiritual and mental cleansing. The villagers also believe that the household gods will also benefit from an annual injection of spiritual energy that fills the air during this festival.

To announce the beginning of the festivities a flag pole is raised to the heavens by the locals of the area. This symbol is said to attract God Shiva’s attention which draws in blessings for the many pilgrims that attend the ceremony.

The festival comes to a grand finale with a long procession of dancers, fire walkers, and holy men with body piercings, who parade the streets. Body piercing and other acts of self mortification are in fact offerings to the Gods. The locals believe that the Gods protect those who undergo these self mutilation acts and a little blood would not do any person harm. Every year these gruesome acts become more and more life threatening and spectacular. One would also think that this festival has some Hindu influence as well, with the symbolic fire walking and Lord Shiva incorporated in the ritual of the flag pole.

There are plenty of accommodation options in Phuket, but it is best to arrive a few days before the festival to secure a room in a Patong Beach Resort such as the Millennium Resort Patong Phuket. This Phuket resort offers its guest a comfortable and enjoyable stay while in the city discovering hidden treasures and religious sites.