Propitiation of Seven Stars - Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2012

Sometimes we all forget - including me - that there is a reason to the Vegetarian Festival and that the prayer, not eating meat and the respect that the people show has a meaning.

With all the smoke, noise, piercing and blood that I see I have tried to visit places and ceremonies which I do not usually visit. This time it was the 'Propitiation of Seven Stars' at Lim Hu Tai Su Shrine (Samkong).

There are specifically Nine Emperors are the seven stars of the North Big Dipper of the North Ursa Major and 2 smaller assistant stars and this is what the ceremony is paying respects to. 

On arrival the streets were packed with vendors selling Vegetarian food - glad to hear that the rent for these spaces goes to the Shrines and not the land holder. The atmosphere was clearly tense and the street is gathered with people dressed in white all waiting for something to happen, occasionally tossing a firecracker and a number of drums .

On arrival at Samkong Shrine the front was cordoned and a circle of fences erected around a tall decorated podium. On entering the shrine I was struck with the amount of people who were paying their respects at the shrine and the day was something which was clearly special to them.

At approximately 8 p.m the head 'shamen' arrived at the podium with his sword and climbed to the top of the podium - firecrackers were lit and the ceremony began. Gradually (what I believe to be) men possessed - the Mah Song - by the spirits of their ancestors and / or Gods came out of the shrine. Nodding their heads rhythmically, dancing, waving flags and more.

Gradually the ground became full of the Mah Song. The shamen then began the ceremony - the people surrounding the podium all kneeled and joss sticks were distribute to us all.

The chanting started and the Mah Song all waved their flags rhythmically flags - this continued for approximately 15 minutes and the crowd began to disperse. At this time the  shrine and local people brought their Chinese effigies to be blessed by the Head Shamen.

A deep breath was taken by me and I left quietly.

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