This ceremony marked the beginning of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival for 2012. There was such an amazing environment I do not know how to translate this into words so I am simply going to record what I witnessed.
I arrived to a plethora of noises and smells - kids tossing firecrackers, drums being beaten and wood being burnt - wonderful.
The Lantern Pole was a long mast of prepared wood and a branch on top of it and it lay horizontal in front of Bang Neow Shrine.
The head 'shamen'? and his 'team' then went to each corner of the temple grounds - placed a flag, rice was thrown and on one occasion a dance performed - a blessing of Bang Neow Shrine...
The shamen returned to the pole and a specific paper (with Chinese hieroglyphics) was then put on the pole - the Shamen then painted something on these pieces.
The pole was now ready to be raised - heavy rope was attached to the pole and people braced themselves. I then noticed that there was also yellow string attached to the pole and this string was held by the public.
On the count the pole was raised very carefully - interestingly the stone at the bottom of the pole was then wrapped in a bamboo mesh.
I then saw a member of the public pick up this yellow string and make themselves a small bracelet - I couldn't find any.
Meanwhile the Shamen then left the pole and returned to the back of the shrine - there was a stage set up. He climbed onto the stage where he then threw rice, I imagine blessing the ground? He was then handed a chicken and something done to the chicken whilst he was holding it - the chicken was then tossed to the floor and chased by the Shamen stabbing the stage with his shaft - he did not catch the chicken.
The focus then returned to inside Bang Neow Shrine - the Shamen seemed to be giving out instructions and directions - choosing his 'warriors'?
The Shamen abruptly returned to the pole in front of the Shrine where he was presented to by a number of people with magnificent Chinese costumes on - magnificent.
I left as night descended on Bang Neow Shrine exhausted and staggered by the amount of beauty and preparation that I had just witnessed - thank you.
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