September 29, 2015
While not on the scale and without the blood-letting of the better known Phuket festival this is still a colourful fun filled time for the local people and all those that want to join in
Post revised 27/08/2016
When: 1st – 9th October 2016
Where: Sawang Boriboon Foundation, Nakula, Chonburi. Central Thailand
Vegetarian festivals have a long tradition in Thailand and are believed to be based on the Chinese ‘Emperor Gods Festival’. Those that ‘spiritually’ celebrate the day will leave their daily businesses aside, (it is not a public holiday in the Kingdom) and visit temples dressed all in white, carrying candles and flowers to make merit. The festival is seen as a chance to cleanse the body and to refrain from any acts that would lead to the taking of lives.
There are traditionally two parades on the first day of the festival, the first starts at 09:19 am and sets off from the Bali Hai Pier, it continues along Walking Street to the entrance on Beach Road where the parade then splits, with one group turning right at the entrance of Walking Street, then turning left onto 2nd Road towards Nakula, up to Central Road.
The second group continues on Beach Road up to Central Road, where it turns right and meets up with the other group at the Tops intersection, both groups then continue on to the corner of third Road where they will board buss’s to ferry them all to ‘Wat Sawang Fah’ in Nakula, near the old market.
Later in the day the annual dual-pronged “Kiew Aung Huk Jow” and “Bodhisattva” (in Buddhism an enlightenment being) parade starts off at Beach Road which in turn will be closed from 12.30 hrs until 15.00 hrs.
Through-out the day, along beach road there will be a vast variety of food stalls offering a wide range of products, some familiar and with luck some not so familiar. While a few may look like meat dishes, they in fact, contain tofu, which is made from soybeans, water and a coagulant, or curdling agent. If you have more of a sweat tooth there will also be plenty of traditional delectable Thai sweets to try, which unlike the majority of the vegetarian food on offer will not actually help your waist line.
The festival kicks off proper at 4 p.m. back at ‘Wat Sawang Fah’ in Nakula. Featuring traditional Chinese performances including the Lion Dance and a huge “Five Auspicious Celestial Rice” dish, cooked in a giant frying pan. The rice dish is expected to have a bit of a bite to it and will be free to everyone attending.
During the festival all manner of food shops and restaurants will fly yellow flags signifying that vegetarian food is available within their premises. Whether or not you are inclined to go veggie during this period, the festival is the ideal opportunity to treat your taste buds to a vast array of wonderfully delicious food.
For more on what is involved for those who participate in the more spiritual elements of the festival, including adherence to gin je, and what is ‘je food’, plus locations of the main festivals across Thailand click here for our post on the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.
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