The Nine Emperor Gods Festival, better known as the Vegetarian Festival because it involves consumption of strictly vegetarian foods is a Taoist celebration observed by the Chinese minorities in South East Asia. It is celebrated on the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar and is believed to cleanse the body.
After Pattaya, Thailand’s island of Phuket is the second largest brothel in the world. While Pattaya offers mostly female hookers, Phuket has a lot of ladyboys and male prostitutes which makes the place more attractive for gay Johns, but equally as dangerous and more overpriced. What Phuket also has is a hefty Chinese population – with about 35% of all inhabitants of Chinese origin, the Vegetarian Festival celebrations in Phuket are wilder than anywhere else.
Legend has it that many, many years ago, members of the wandering Chinese opera got sick with malaria during their visit to Phuket. Back then, malaria meant death but in their desperate bid to battle the disease off, the troupe resorted to cleansing their bodies with strictly vegetarian foods while praying to the Nine Emperor Gods. This helped the troupe to make a full recovery so ever since, the Chinese that remained settled in Phuket, paid respect to the Nine Emperor Gods by piercing their faces with a variety of instruments, especially weapons and an assortments of fruits. Further to the piercings, the devotees also abstain from eating meats, having sex and drinking alcohol. I understand the meat and alcohol, but sex? Weird!
Not all devotees participate in ritual piercings, but those who do are called “Mah Song” which translates roughly as “Horses of the Gods“. It is believed that their bodies are entered by the Gods and used as their vehicles during the rituals. Gods presence shifts evil away from the individual and brings the community good luck.
In the video below, you can see a “Mah Song” getting his cheek first impaled with a large cone and then several daggers are inserted through the hole left by the cone. Mah Song does not even peep while he’s being impaled.
Needless to say, the Phuket Vegetarian Festival attracts thousands of visitors which in turn keeps Thai scammers, thieves, rapists, murderers and other filth in high gear. Worth the risk?