Vegetarian festival boosts income for foodsellers nationwide

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PHITSANULOK, Oct 16 – The 10-day vegetarian festival nationwide is attracting Thai Buddhists and many of Chinese descent to participate in the festivities, boosting the economy for restaurants and food stalls selling vegetarian food.

In the provincial seat of Phitsanulok province, 200 miles north of Bangkok, many residents are shopping for vegetarian food. A takeaway dish to eat with rice costs 20-30 baht. Merchants say they are trying to maintain the same price as last year for consumers but probably in smaller portions due to higher cost of ingredients which have doubled for the festival.

In the northern province of Chiang Rai, the vegetarian atmosphere is also lively. More teenagers are participating with enthusiasm in the annual festival of abstaining from meat and pungent vegetables. Prices of vegetables and other ingredients here have also increased and are more expensive than last year. Local Chinese shrines have become more attractive for those wishing for free food.

In Thailand’s northeast, officials of the Kalasin provincial hospital and the local Public Health Office randomly checked for contaminants in fruits and vegetables as well as other ingredients used for vegetarian cooking in order to ensure the safety of the public.

Meanwhile, in Songkhla’s Hat Yai district in Thailand’s south, tourists from Malaysia and Singapore as well as Thais of Chinese descent continued to flock to the area to participate in the festival there. Chinese shrines are packed all day for those coming to pay respect to the Chinese gods and to have free food. Most travellers come as families.