Friday, 3 October 2014

Cedric Arnold | Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Photo © Cedric Arnold-All Rights Reserved
Here's a festival with religious connotations that I ought to add to my list of to do events.

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is an annual event held in Thailand during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, and was held  from 24 September - 02 October 2014. It celebrated the Chinese community's belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health, peace of mind, and will also offer spiritual cleansing. Its accompanying sacred rituals grant good fortune on those who observe this rite.

It is thought that the festival was introduced to Phuket by a wandering Chinese opera group who fell ill with malaria while performing on the island.

One of the most exciting aspects of the festival are the ceremonies held to invoke the gods. Firewalking, body piercing and other acts of self mortification undertaken by participants acting as mediums of the gods, have become more spectacular and daring as each year goes by. Men and women puncture their cheeks with various items including knives, skewers and other household items. It is believed that the Chinese gods will protect such persons from harm, and little blood or scarring results from such mutilation acts.

Cedric Arnold's Phuket Vegetarian Festival brings us spectacular monochromatic photographs of this event. Very reminiscent of Thaipusam, the festival includes acts of self mortification that are shocking and gruesome.

Cedric Arnold is a photographer specializing in portraiture, travel, documentary & corporate photography, as well as movie stills. In his personal work, he is often drawn towards exploring the markings of time, this can be in the subject matter itself or expressed with the medium he uses: out of date film, old instant film, or even through chemically altering prints and emulsion.

This is the fourth time that I feature Cedric Arnold's work on this blog. Previous posts can be found here.