The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is well known for it's processions and scenes of self infliction and although the ceremonies are based on paying respect to the Nine Emperor Gods, a significant part of the festival both spiritually and commercially is a strict vegetarian diet. This diet forbids the use of strong smelling vegetables and herbs such as garlic and onions as well as all forms of food deriving from animals be it meat, eggs or milk. Cooking utensils and containers have to be separated and so many devotees choose to make a donation at the shrine and eat only food cooked by the shrine alms house. They will take a 'binto' (a layered kind of picnic box) to the temple with a name tag on it and will be given food for free. Others will buy food from the many stalls that are set up along the roadside in front of the shrines.
An amazing range of food and drinks are for sale and the people will spend time strolling through the markets after they have been to the shrine to pray to the gods.Food can be taken away or eaten in the many restaurants that appear especially for the festival.
The streets turn into a food market with a festival atmosphere.
Dragon Drums are popular with the kids!
Just about every Thai dish will come as a vegetarian version - even the famous 'Somtam'.
I even found one of my favourites - Giant Roti!
Many of the stalls sell fired Toufu, Spring Rolls and Tot Man which add a bit of protein to the otherwise vegetable dishes.
Every year I try to eat this vegetarian diet for the full 9 days of the festival, and with all the different food to choose from it really isn't that difficult!