The Phuket Vegetarian Festival and its rituals are thought by many to bring good fortune to religious followers. Phuket residents of Chinese ancestry, called Hokkien Chinese, follow a strict vegan or vegetarian diet for 10 days for the purposes of merit-making and spiritual cleansing. This is accompanied by sacred rituals at Chinese temples and shrines around the island. Stalls of vegan food are set up throughout Phuket City, and even non-vegans will be suitably impressed by the delicious selection.
The festival started in 1825 the paricipants are not allowed to eat meat or have sex at the time of the festival. For obvious reasons participants are asked to use only sterile blades, spears and guns. According to physicians there is a risk of HIV and hepatitis.
Perhaps the most visual of these rituals are the displays of extreme body piercings with large objects that can range from knives to umbrellas. Devotees, called ma song, may even partake in walking over hot coals barefoot or climbing up ladders that have rungs made of knife blades. Visitors can see the ma song walking in their trances during long parades through the streets on every day of the festival.
In the odd animals hall of fame, this little piggy takes the cake.
Pigs are a sign of fertility in China, and in the Year of the Pig, this piglet got more than his fair share, being born with two mouths, two noses and three eyes.
Liu Shuping, a farmer specialising in raising pigs, presented the new-born piglet in Xi an, in north-west China’s Shannxi province yesterday.
But it’s not unique. Only last month there were reports of a pig being born in Quanzhou in East China’s Fujian province with two mouths and four eyes.