The street procession on the penultimate day of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival is certainly a must for me to visit, this was 2013. Arriving early (5:30am) is something I like to do simply to embrace to atmosphere of the Shrine and be prepared. On arrival it was quite peaceful, but as I relaxed the noises erupted from the Shrine and the possessions began. On entering the Shrine I recognised the person from a previous visit who was one of the first put into a trance.
The man with the incredible tattoos over his upper torso. The pins seemed to be small fish hooks this year and each hook had a bell! The smoke was lit inside the Shrine and more people were brought in to be put under a possession.
Meanwhile the number of bells put on the tattooed man increased. Met Jamie outside and we wondered whether we would notice anything different this year - I indicated that I was going to steer clear of possessions and piercing because I had focused on these previously. There was I do not know how many Tai Pan waiting and how many people there were. People began to arrive and many of them walked in and waved their hand over the wood burning in front of the shrine - a common action.
The procession began with the Head of the Shrine beginning the procession - he came to the front, took the rice from his 'team' and threw it over the onlookers. He then took his sword and pulled it along the ground - once this was done he returned to the Shrine.
At this point he approached the first Tai Pan and gave out pieces of orange fabric which was attached to the wrists of the people carrying the sedan. People carrying flags and some possessed / pierced Ma Song left.
The most surprising possessed Ma Song was someone which crawled on the floor and at this time it looked very painful because his hands seemed to be pulled tightly together. Then suddenly he leapt onto a vehicle carrying another possessed Ma Song - a powerful act which I was not able to get a photograph of.
At this time the fire crackers started and the Tai Pan were lifted and the teams began to leave.
Then the streets erupted - people with firecrackers wrapped around sticks ran to the Tai Pand and held the crackers over the Tai Pan and the effigy and then there was NOISE!!!!
(Video will come - but here is a quick burst)
The street was quickly covered in the fire cracker wrapping.
What I found most fascinating was the possessed walking through the chaos and how many accidents they did not have. It was at this point that I tried to have a conversation with Jamie and then got drawn into the chaos around me.
As the procession continued I realised that it was still early and the
sun was coming up - lovely.
Then we started up the hill and I recognised another person - one of the 'three musketeers'.
We continued all the way to Central Festival and it was at this time that I noticed that the female Ma Song were not wearing shoes! I walked a little quicker for some peace and found it at the front of the procession - water was drunk at a rate which was too fast but I felt better...
People were lining the streets and waiting for the Ma Song to pass and bless their homes.
Such as this man but the possessed Ma Song did not want to go.
It was at this time that I noticed that the person with all the pins was very close and the bells all rang and shone in the sunlight - fabulous, but I was not able capture the true beauty of this on a camera.
There was a procession 'cart' which was holding what looked like 'Lustral Water'.
It was only when I got splashed by the water that I realised that it was hot!
Phuket Old Town (I feel) is the best place to take photographs - wonderful background.
See you next year?