Pattaya Vegetarian Festival gets underway with parades and thrilling performances

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Pattaya began this year’s version of the annual Vegetarian Festival with a parade from Bali Hai to Banglamung, as well as cooking up a giant vegetable dish to serve thousands. Also on tap were lions and dragons, Chinese acrobatics, and the always exciting performance by the Eng Kor fighting team (shown here), which is made up of 108 “bandit warriors” from Chumjon Lien San Pong, Shandong province.

Dragons danced through the streets and 5,000 people dined on friend noodles with peaches as the annual Pattaya Vegetarian Festival stirred up Thai-Chinese citizens and tourists alike.

Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome, MP Santsak Ngampichet, Chonburi Gov. Khomsan Ekachai, Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and city council members headed the long line of people queuing up at the Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan Foundation headquarters for a helping of the “Pai Hor Hia Teeh,” the cooking of which was overseen by Surasak Pankluab, president of Pattaya Eastern Chefs Association.

Pattaya began this year’s version of the annual Vegetarian Festival with a parade from Bali Hai to Banglamung, as well as cooking up a giant vegetable dish to serve thousands. Also on tap were lions and dragons, Chinese acrobatics, and the always exciting performance by the Eng Kor fighting team (shown here), which is made up of 108 “bandit warriors” from Chumjon Lien San Pong, Shandong province. Pattaya began this year’s version of the annual Vegetarian Festival with a parade from Bali Hai to Banglamung, as well as cooking up a giant vegetable dish to serve thousands. Also on tap were lions and dragons, Chinese acrobatics, and the always exciting performance by the Eng Kor fighting team (shown here), which is made up of 108 “bandit warriors” from Chumjon Lien San Pong, Shandong province.

More than 16 ingredients comprised the meal, including mushrooms, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peas, cranberries and gingko nuts, along with 5,000 peaches. Consuming the fried rice is believed to bring prosperity. Even the mayor took turns stirring the pan with a spoon.

Before they could eat, however, they had to march. 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 12:29 p.m. at Bali Hai Pier and ran up Walking Street.

Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome leads city councilors at the head of the parade.Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome leads city councilors at the head of the parade.

The parade group then split, with the first half following Beach Road to Central Road and turning right, stopping for an Eng-ko performance in front of Tops Supermarket.

The second branch traveled along Second Road, stopping at Mike’s Department Store for a dragon and lion show, before proceeding on to Central Road to meet up with the first group. Reunited, the groups moved to Third Road where they jumped on buses to go to Wat Sawang Fah Pritaram.  The final leg of the parade made its way from the temple to the vegetarian hall at Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan.

Minister of Culture “Chef” Sonthaya Kunplome, along with other honorary chefs, stir up a giant ‘Khao Phat Thip 8 Sien Hongtae’.Minister of Culture “Chef” Sonthaya Kunplome, along with other honorary chefs, stir up a giant ‘Khao Phat Thip 8 Sien Hongtae’.

All along the parade route, as large crowds looked on, business owners set up tables to “feed” Poi Sien Jow Sue with cash and ceremonial gifts according to tradition, asking for their businesses to prosper.

Even through rain fell during the start of festivities, the vegans dressed in white remained hungry for action. Everyone still seemed to be having fun, encouraged by the dancing dragons.

The hungry dragon peaks in at the food table.The hungry dragon peaks in at the food table.

Parking remains a problem for the festival, which runs through Oct. 14. But the site is easy to spot thanks to yellow flags, posters and arrows pointing the way to the Sawang Boriboon headquarters. Pedestrians also must take care, as the festival road is not closed to traffic.

The food booths offer a wide range of products, some familiar, some not. A few look like meat, but are, in fact, tofu. There are plenty of sweets as well, such as donuts coated in honey.

Sawang Boriboon members help dish out the ‘Khao Phat Thip 8 Sien Hongtae’.Sawang Boriboon members help dish out the ‘Khao Phat Thip 8 Sien Hongtae’.

You’re never too young to start learning acrobatics.You’re never too young to start learning acrobatics.

It seems there might be a few technical difficulties with the dragon.It seems there might be a few technical difficulties with the dragon.

Feeding the dragon by putting cash in the dragon’s mouth will hopefully bring prosperity.  Either way, the funds are donated to the needy.Feeding the dragon by putting cash in the dragon’s mouth will hopefully bring prosperity.  Either way, the funds are donated to the needy.

All fixed and ready to go.All fixed and ready to go.

Citizens on both sides of the road set up tables for worship in front of their homes and shops to wait for the ‘Poi Sien Jow Sue’ parade in order to pay their respects.Citizens on both sides of the road set up tables for worship in front of their homes and shops to wait for the ‘Poi Sien Jow Sue’ parade in order to pay their respects.

People donate cash to the lion according to the old belief that this will bring happiness.People donate cash to the lion according to the old belief that this will bring happiness.

Citizens dressed in white solemnly light incense to pray to the Lords of Prosperity.Citizens dressed in white solemnly light incense to pray to the Lords of Prosperity.

The food booths offer a wide range of products, some familiar, some not.The food booths offer a wide range of products, some familiar, some not.

Some of the people along the parade route are given the stamp of serendipity.Some of the people along the parade route are given the stamp of serendipity.

People flock to the jars of holy water to drink it and spray some on themselves to detoxify their outer and inner bodies before the vegetarian festival.People flock to the jars of holy water to drink it and spray some on themselves to detoxify their outer and inner bodies before the vegetarian festival.

Vegetarian meals and desserts bring lots of revenue for vendors.Vegetarian meals and desserts bring lots of revenue for vendors.

Citizens donate cash to Lord Hokloksew, the Lord of Happiness.Citizens donate cash to Lord Hokloksew, the Lord of Happiness.

Members of the Eng Ko fighting team are made up of 108 “bandit warriors” from Chumjon Lien San Pong, Shandong province.Members of the Eng Ko fighting team are made up of 108 “bandit warriors” from Chumjon Lien San Pong, Shandong province.

Peaches are believed to be prosperous fruits from the lords.Peaches are believed to be prosperous fruits from the lords.

Round and round it goes…Round and round it goes…

Lord Jee-kong, the holy lord that has been worshipped and prayed to by Chinese since olden days.Lord Jee-kong, the holy lord that has been worshipped and prayed to by Chinese since olden days.

The exciting dragon performance has been thrilling crowds for centuries.The exciting dragon performance has been thrilling crowds for centuries.

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