From 20 to 28 of October, the vegetarian festival will be held in Thailand. The Tesagan Gin Je festival, also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, is a religious event, originally from China. The story is that a Chinese Opera group came to Phuket to perform. When they fell ill with Malaria, they refrained from eating meat, and prayed to the Nine Emperor Gods. They made a full recovery and held a festival to honor the gods. Therefore, nowadays the belief is that by abstinence from meat and stimulants, the person will have good health and peace of mind.
As the tradition goes, many participants will be in a state of trance and mutilate themselves by, for example, piercing their cheeks, slashing their tongues or standing near fire crackers as they are lit. The belief is that the Chinese Gods will protect the participants of harm and scarring. The participants are monitored throughout the entire event by doctors and physicians and will most likely fully heal shortly after the event is over.
Furthermore, the festival focuses on vegetarian food. The vegetarian dishes that are offered are on first sight, exactly the same as normal. However, the meat is replaced by soybean and protein substitutes that look and taste just like real meat. Yellow and red flags signal that a shop or stall has food that is prepared according to festival regulations. The food is quite simple for Thai standards, since strong smelling foods such as garlic are not allowed.
The center of celebrations is in Phuket, since many Thai-Chinese people are living there. There are many Chinese shrines on the island, but the main events take place along the major ones, which include; Put Jaw, Kathu Shrine, Jui Tui, Cherng Talay and Bang Niew.
In Bangkok there will also be celebrations, be it in a smaller setting. The festivities will take place in Chinatown. It is best to arrive around 5 pm. You can have a walk around the food stalls, marked by the yellow and red flags, try out some food, and watch the people coming and going from the temples. Every night between 6 and 7 pm, the performances of the Chinese Opera start at Charoen Krung Road. It is definitely a must see when you are visiting this incredible festival.