UK
20/10/2015 08:07 BST | Updated 20/10/2015 09:59 BST

Phuket Thailand Vegetarian Festival Sees Attendees Pierce Their Faces With Swords

Gruesome images have emerged from an annual vegetarian festival in Thailand where attendees pierce their faces with sharp objects and swords.

The ritual, which is considered a tradition at the nine-day Taoist celebration has little to do with food, instead an assault for the most devout, on the body itself.

Other ceremonies are also held to invoke the gods such as fire walking and acts of self-mortification. The spectacular scenes attracting thousands of tourists each year.

thai vegetarian festival

The festival is celebrated by the most devout, by piercing the skin with foreign objects

The event, known as Phuket festival, has unclear origins. It's believed that the celebration was bought to the province by a wandering Chinese opera group who fell ill with malaria while performing on the island.

During the period of suffering, the troupe decided that they should abstain from eating meat. It was during this period that the group recovered, thanking vegetarianism for their healing.

The event now celebrates the myth and focuses on the worship of the Taoist's Nine Emperor Gods. In order to achieve the blessings of these gods, devotees must adhere to a strict vegetarian diet and perform the strict rituals of purification for their body and mind, with the end result being peace of mind and good fortune.

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The festivities begin on the eve of the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar and is observed primarily in Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar.

Thai Vegetarian Festival