Thai Vegetarian Festival
Every year, a colorful and special festival is held in Thailand for 9 days. The exact time of the festival varies according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, but usually it’s being celebrated in October. During this 9-day festival, all Thai people, especially those of Chinese origin, come together to celebrate the Vegetarian Festival called “Tessagan Gin Jay”.
Although the origins of the festival can be traced back to Taoism, it has gained importance in Thai Buddhism as time passed. The biggest celebrations take place on the streets of Bangkok and Phuket Island, which are usually pretty lively and exciting anyway. These two locations are not the only address of the festival, of course. The whole country turns into a feast area duing these days!
The Vegetarian Festival is called "vegetarian", but it can actually be said to be "vegan": During the 9-day festival, both meat products and all foods of animal origin such as eggs or milk are being avoided. Garlic and onions, which have a pungent taste and smell, are also not on the menu during the festival.
The start of the Vegetarian Festival is far earlier than the modern times where vegetarian diets gained increasing popularity. Allegedly, the festival's roots can be traced back to the year 1825. In 1825, an opera troupe that came to Phuket Island from China fell ill due to malaria. The artists who wanted to recover decided to eat only healthy vegetables and to pray to Nine Emperor Gods. After a while, they recovered to everyone’s surprise. Vegetarian nutrition was believed to purify the soul and body after this nice incident. And so the tradition to honor the Nine Emperor Gods for nine days every year started.
Especially the surroundings of Chinese temples are full of food stalls during the festival. These stalls are marked with yellow flags with the red colored inscription "Jay" (vegetarian). Here, people sell all kinds of tasty vegetarian/vegan food for 9 days.
The Vegetarian Festival not only welcomes people who want to "purify" and to eat vegetarian foods, but also to watch the rituals performed in the temples, to listen to music concerts and to watch the “performances” that are quite astonishing. Calling these shows “performances” is maybe not an accurate definition. Some people, who believe that the Nine Emperor Gods will protect them, pierce their cheeks with objects such as needles, knives and swords. They claim they don’t feel any pain… Who knows, maybe all they want to do is to stay alive and reinforce their beliefs in Gods.
Would you like to celebrate this interesting festival with a delicious vegetarian meal?
You can be a part of the Vegetarian Festival with Cok Cok Thai’s Spring Rolls, Massaman Curry and Vegetarian Curry options, and purify both your soul and body!