Pattaya Vegetarian Festival sizzles in opening

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It takes a lot of hands, and some big skillets, to feed 5,000 people, but organizers of the Pattaya Vegetarian Festival had it covered again this year in Naklua.  Shown here, Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho help the “master chefs” create this batch of delicious heavenly rice. The festival comes to a conclusion today, Oct. 3.

It takes a lot of hands, and some big skillets, to feed 5,000 people, but organizers of the Pattaya Vegetarian Festival had it covered again this year in Naklua.

Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome, former MPs, Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and city council members kicked off the Sept. 23-Oct. 3 festival at the Sawang Boriboon Foundation Vegetarian Hall following the traditional Chinese lion and dragon parade through the city.

It takes a lot of hands, and some big skillets, to feed 5,000 people, but organizers of the Pattaya Vegetarian Festival had it covered again this year in Naklua.  Shown here, Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho help the “master chefs” create this batch of delicious heavenly rice. The festival comes to a conclusion today, Oct. 3.It takes a lot of hands, and some big skillets, to feed 5,000 people, but organizers of the Pattaya Vegetarian Festival had it covered again this year in Naklua.  Shown here, Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho help the “master chefs” create this batch of delicious heavenly rice. The festival comes to a conclusion today, Oct. 3.

The annual dual-headed procession consisting of “Kiew Huang Huk Jow” (the nine deities who are the spiritual mascots of the festival) and “Bhodisttava” (also known as Chow Mae Kuan Im, the goddess of mercy, compassion & healing) kicked off at Bali Hai Pier and ran up Walking Street.

The parade group then split, with half following Beach Road to Central Road and turning right. The second branch traveled along Second Road, stopping for a dragon show, then met the first group at Central Road. Reunited, the groups moved to Third Road and then jumped on buses to go to the Sawang Boriboon headquarters.

A parade cannot be a parade without a marching band, and this one performed brilliantly.A parade cannot be a parade without a marching band, and this one performed brilliantly.

Vegans dressed in white and were hungry for action, and rice with plums, by the time they arrived in Naklua. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves as the waited for the “Khao Thip 5 Mongkol,” or Five Auspicious Celestial Rice to sizzle, entertained by “eng-ko” fearsome fighters, along lion and dragon shows.

Surasak Pankluab, head of the Chefs Association of Pattaya and East Coast, oversaw the cooking of the rice dish consisting of rice, beans, corn, mushrooms, gingko nuts, carrots, oyster sauce, and oil. All the ingredients were thrown into a trio of three-meter-wide frying pans heated to 100 degrees C and stirred by 15 people each.

Pattaya administrators bang their gongs to announce the arrival of the parade at Lan Pho.Pattaya administrators bang their gongs to announce the arrival of the parade at Lan Pho.

The cooks served up 5,000 plates of the heavenly rice, which was distributed free to everyone at the festival throughout the night.

Sawang Boriboon President Visit Chaowalitnittithum noted that the Chinese calendar, for the first time in 182 years, calls for two vegetarian festivals, with the second period falling Oct. 24-Nov. 1. However, due to the expense and traffic created, Pattaya will host only one festival. Bangkok’s Chinatown will host a second fest.

A fierce dragon wants to help ward off evil spirits.A fierce dragon wants to help ward off evil spirits.

For those unwilling to brave the crowds in Naklua, Central Festival Pattaya Beach also is running its own vegetarian festival. Mall executives kicked off festivities Sept. 23 with guest Jirasak Jirapat, business development director of the J Hotel Pattaya, presenting a special tofu steak.

Numerous mall restaurants will be offering vegan meals during the period, including Ali Arabic, S&P, Black Canyon Coffee, MK, Sizzler, Oishii Ramen.

Of course, Pattaya street vendors also are cooking up vegetable dishes, with many seeing their incomes blossom during the 10 days.

However, Sawang Boriboon lead chef Amporn Potthong noted that vegetable prices have jumped, as usual, during the festival, as much as 20 percent, due to high demand and more than a bit of price gouging of those abstaining from meat.

Visit Chaowalitnittithum, president of Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan, and Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome welcome people to the official opening of this year’s Pattaya Vegetarian Festival.Visit Chaowalitnittithum, president of Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan, and Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome welcome people to the official opening of this year’s Pattaya Vegetarian Festival.

Honored guests stir the Khao Thip 5 Mongkol (Five Auspicious Celestial Rice) to serve the 5000 people attending the opening of this year’s Pattaya Vegetarian Festival.Honored guests stir the Khao Thip 5 Mongkol (Five Auspicious Celestial Rice) to serve the 5000 people attending the opening of this year’s Pattaya Vegetarian Festival.

Surat Mekavarakul (right), MD of Mike Shopping Mall, leads employees in the worshipping ceremony.Surat Mekavarakul (right), MD of Mike Shopping Mall, leads employees in the worshipping ceremony.

Lions and dragons are considered auspicious beings at the vegetarian festival.Lions and dragons are considered auspicious beings at the vegetarian festival.

Eng-Ko fighters join the parade through town before showing off their fighting skills.Eng-Ko fighters join the parade through town before showing off their fighting skills.

Eng-Ko fighters perform at Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan.Eng-Ko fighters perform at Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan.

Chinese acrobats, always an exciting edition to the festival, perform on Beach Road.Chinese acrobats, always an exciting edition to the festival, perform on Beach Road.

Devout citizens prepare to light their candles and incense to welcome the lords at Lan Pho market.Devout citizens prepare to light their candles and incense to welcome the lords at Lan Pho market.

Citizens prepare to make donations to the lions and dragons in the parade.Citizens prepare to make donations to the lions and dragons in the parade.

Former MP Poramet Ngampichet, Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho, and former Minister of Culture Sonthaya Kunplome represent the Sawang Boriboon Foundation.Former MP Poramet Ngampichet, Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho, and former Minister of Culture Sonthaya Kunplome represent the Sawang Boriboon Foundation.

Former Minister of Culture Sonthaya Kunplome (left) and friends give their thumbs up to the heavenly rice.Former Minister of Culture Sonthaya Kunplome (left) and friends give their thumbs up to the heavenly rice.

Children from the Kung Fu training center on Pattaya 3rd Road perform for the audience.Children from the Kung Fu training center on Pattaya 3rd Road perform for the audience.

A young boy has been put in charge of banging the gong to announce the presence of the parade through town.A young boy has been put in charge of banging the gong to announce the presence of the parade through town.

Colorful toys help brighten the festival for youngsters.Colorful toys help brighten the festival for youngsters.

The dragon parade performs at Mike Shopping Mall.The dragon parade performs at Mike Shopping Mall.

The dragon parade makes its way to the front Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan.The dragon parade makes its way to the front Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan.

Tiraporn Jitnawa, general manager of the Central Festival Pattaya Beach, Saiyan Nakboon, general manager of the Central Center Pattaya and (James) Jirasak Jirapat, business development director of the J Hotel Pattaya and friends gather for the launch of the Vegetarian Festival at Central Festival Pattaya Beach.Tiraporn Jitnawa, general manager of the Central Festival Pattaya Beach, Saiyan Nakboon, general manager of the Central Center Pattaya and (James) Jirasak Jirapat, business development director of the J Hotel Pattaya and friends gather for the launch of the Vegetarian Festival at Central Festival Pattaya Beach.