Pomp of Chinese traditional vegetarian festival awaits visitors in Hat Yai

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SONGKHLA, Oct 10 – Hat Yai’s 10-day vegetarian festival later this month will generate at least Bt100 million–from visitors around Thailand and from neighbouring countries, according to a leading hotelier in the business community here.

Hat Yai-Songkhla Hotels Association president Somchart Pimtanapoonporn said hotels and other accommodations have been booked up to 70-80 per cent occupancy for the period, while some are entirely filled at the Oct 19-20 weekend.

The association has joined with the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Hat Yai office and the Songkhla Tourism Business Federation to hold the vegetarian festival at the Mitraparb Sammaki Foundation park in the town centre to attract both practicing vegetarians and tourists.

The traditional Chinese ritual falling on Oct 14-23 has become an annual spectacle-cum-religious event for Hat Yai. The Chinese community in other parts of Thailand, including Bangkok, also dedicated to the practice of abstaining from consumption of every kind of meat and vegetables with pungent odours.

Those observing the festival generally wear simple white clothing are abstain from eating meat, animal oils and five vegetables with pungent-odours–garlic, onions, Chinese chives, garlic chives and tobacco.

Chinese communities in Malaysia and Singapore share the same traditional devotion and many visit Hat Yai to join Thais of Chinese descent in the festival.