Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Anthony Gueguen | Phuket Vegetarian Festival

PHUKET VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL by laostreetphotography on Exposure

Although I've photographed Kuala Lumpur's Nine Emperor Gods Festival, I haven't had the stomach (yet) to do the same at its "cousin"; the Phuket Vegetarian Festival in Thailand.

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival (also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival or the Kin Jay Festival, is an annual Taoist event celebrated by the Chinese community in Thailand, and its version as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival is celebrated over nine days in Myanmar, Malaysia, and Indonesia by local Chinese communities.

In comparison, the religious self-mutilations performed by the devotees during the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket are considered to be extreme and shocking. The entranced devotees who perform these acts of religious self-mutilation are called mah song. They wear elaborate costumes, enter into trances and ask the gods to enter their bodies. Men or women (they are usually celibate) puncture their faces with hooks, spears and knives amongst other sharp implements.

It is said that the mutilations are done without anesthetic, and are performed either inside or near the temples surrounded by other devotees. The wounds are treated with only iodine and petroleum jelly by attendants wearing surgical gloves as precautionary measures.

Other than his Exposure website Lao Street Photography, information on Anthony Gueguen is unfortunately sparse, however he is a project advisor with a French NGO based in Vientiane called Comite de Cooperation avec le Laos (CCL). His profession enables him to travel within Laos and to other Asian countries.