2nd of Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2014
Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival is exceptionally auspicious this year because according to the Chinese calendar, there are two ninth lunar months. This happens only once in a lifetime as the last one occurred 182 years ago, which means you will have to wait 95 more years if you missed this one. This year, some shrines will enjoy two celebrations. The first will be held during 24 September to 2 October and the second round from 24 October to 1 November 2014.
Phuket’s Vegetarian festival (or jia chai in local Hokkien Chinese dialect) began in 1825, when the governor of Thalang, Praya Jerm, moved the island’s principal town from Ta Reua in Thalang District to Get-Hoe in Kathu District, where were tin mines and Chinese miners.Kathu was then still covered by jungle and fever was rife. It happened that a traveling opera company (called ngiu in Thai or pua-hee in Hokkien dialect) came from China to perform for the miners.
The answer came that ritual vegetarianism with its attendant ceremonies had been the cause, with the result that people embraced the faith enthusiastically. Thus the festival began: starting the first evening of the ninth lunar month, it continued until the ninth evening; the aim was to bring good luck to individuals as well as to the community.
When the whole company grew sick from an unnamed malady, they kept to a vegetarian diet to honor two of the emperor gods, Kiew Ong Tai Teh and Yok Ong Sone Teh. The sickness afflicting the opera troupe then disappeared. This greatly interested the people of Kathu, who asked how it was done.
It later happened that one familiar with the festival
volunteered to return to Kansai, in China, where he invited the sacred Hiao Ho-le or Hiao lan (incense smoke) and Lian Tui (name plaques), which have the status of gods, to come stay in Kathu. He also brought holy writings used in the ceremonies, returning to Phuket on the seventh night of the ninth month. The people, upon hearing of his arrival, went in procession to Bang Niao Pier to bring him and his sacred cargo back. This was the origin of the processions that figure so greatly in the festival.
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