Since the 1800's in Thailand, there has been a yearly vegetarian festival in which attendees participate in rituals from eating to piercing themselves with spears to drive away evil spirits. Everyone refrains from sex and meat-eating, and they dance and celebrate to bring luck to their community!
The Vegetarian Festival began in 1825. A traveling Chinese opera company came to Phuket and immediately fell ill with a mysterious disease. While they were sick, they observed a brief two-day tradition of honoring past emperors by refraining from eating meat. These two events would seem to be unrelated, but the opera company members' illness vanished! The people of Phuket were fascinated, and learned the vegetarian rituals the company had followed to cure themselves. They continue to honor vegetarianism as restorative and cleansing, and the festival is now a 10-day affair during the 9th lunar month.
The Vegetarian Festival, alive and well, took place from September 28th to October 7th this year, and below is our gallery. If you're feeling brave, you can see pictures of the piercings here
, and you can read more about the history and traditions of the festival here