Festivals, photojournalism, thailand

Vegetarian festival on Phuket

Disclaimer: Images in this article contain scenes of self-harm for religious believes of depicted people’s own accord .

The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is an annual event held during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar.

In Thailand, this festival is called thetsakan kin che (Thai: เทศกาลกินเจ), the Vegetarian Festival. It is celebrated throughout the entire country, but the festivities are at their height in Phuket, where about 35% of the population is Thai Chinese. It attracts crowds of spectators because of many of the unusual religious rituals that are performed.

It is believed that the vegetarian festival and its accompanying sacred rituals bestow good fortune upon those who religiously observe this rite. During this time, local residents of Chinese ancestry strictly observe a 10-day vegetarian or vegan diet for the purposes of spiritual cleansing and merit-making. Sacred rituals are performed at various Chinese shrines and temples and aesthetic displays such as walking barefooted over hot coals and ascending ladders with bladed rungs are performed by entranced devotees known as “Ma Song”.

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The city of Devotees

A dozen or so snaps are certainly not enough to tell a story about Bhaktapur. Neither is just a few days enough to explore this ancient city. So I keep coming back to Nepal, to delve deeper into this special place.

Bhaktapur has its own rhythm. Well, to be honest, it’s very slow compared to our modern city lives. But it’s a great chance to experience the rhythm of life from centuries ago.

Protected as a Unesco World Heritage site, the old part of Bhaktapur has retained a beautiful, medieval charm; not only as a monument, but as a home for many locals. They do their daily living there – worshiping at shrines, sifting rice on narrow streets, washing clothes at public water wells, making crafts or just chatting in the city’s squares.

Don’t rush. Take time to wander down the narrow streets surrounding the more famous sites in Bhaktapur, peep into backyards and doorways, be respectful of local life and you’ll be benefited with an unbelievable experience.

Bhaktapur, Nepal.
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Mahashivaratri in Kathmandu

Every year thousands of sadhus – holy pilgrims from all over Nepal and India come to Pashupatinath temple, the biggest hindu temple in Nepal located in Kathmandu. And even more devotees come to get blessing from temple’s priests and pay their respect to sadhus on the special festival called Mahashivaratri (The great night of Shiva).

As an act of worshiping to Lord Shiva sadhus smoking ganja (cannabis or marijuana) with chillum a special pipe made from clay and spell mantras. It’s believed that to smoke with sadhu is the way to get blessed on this special day. So many locals come for that as well, especially young people. Officially it’s not allowed, but possible to do.

Only hindu people allowed to go inside the temple and during Mahashivaratri there are special sacred guests staying inside. They called naga babas – holy men who have renounced all material and earthly attachments and accoutrements, including their clothes.

Mahashivaratri in Pashupatinath
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