Body-piercing, vegetarianism collide in Sattahip parade spectacle

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Devotees of the Kuan-Oo Shrine in Sattahip express their dedication to Chinese Taoist gods through blood in a display intended to demonstrate their gods’ supernatural effect. During the annual Vegetarian Festival, these acts are performed as a way for Chinese-Thais to purify themselves through pain and complete abstinence from meat, sex and other vices.

The Sattahip area’s most devout vegetarians expressed their dedication to Chinese Taoist gods in a gruesome parade featuring facial piercing.

Pol. Lt. Col. Niphon Pomsanam, deputy superintendent at Sattahip Police Station, opened the Oct. 16 parade for devotees of the Kuan-Oo Shrine, which featured people who put aside pain to impale their cheeks with various sharp objects.

Devotees of the Kuan-Oo Shrine in Sattahip express their dedication to Chinese Taoist gods through blood in a display intended to demonstrate their gods’ supernatural effect. During the annual Vegetarian Festival, these acts are performed as a way for Chinese-Thais to purify themselves through pain and complete abstinence from meat, sex and other vices. Devotees of the Kuan-Oo Shrine in Sattahip express their dedication to Chinese Taoist gods through blood in a display intended to demonstrate their gods’ supernatural effect. During the annual Vegetarian Festival, these acts are performed as a way for Chinese-Thais to purify themselves through pain and complete abstinence from meat, sex and other vices.

By piercing their cheeks with spikes or swiping their tongues with knives, the devotees showed their devotion through blood in a display intended to show their gods’ supernatural effect.

One of many bizarre parades that play out across Thailand during the annual Vegetarian Festival, the procession is organized as a way for Chinese-Thais to purify themselves through pain and complete abstinence from meat, sex and other vices during the 10-day festival.

The practice is believed to have begun in Phuket in 1825 after a plague-stricken opera troupe from China was cured by adopting a vegetarian diet.

Devout vegetarians express their dedication to Chinese Taoist gods by piercing their cheeks with spikes.

Vegetarians hang money on the spikes to make merit.

Devotees showed their devotion through blood.

Chinese-Thais purify themselves through pain.

Practitioners often go into a trance to absorb their gods’ supernatural powers and block out the pain.