A boy seen inside Bang Neow shrine holding on to small sticks of inscence. Every year during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, the Phuket Vegetarian Festival kicks off. The religious festival in Phuket, Thailand, lasts for 10 days, during which sacred rituals take place in the many Chinese shrines and temples. Walking on fire and climbing ladders with bladed rungs barefoot are two of several rituals believed to bring good fortune. The main purpose of the festival, however, is spiritual cleansing and merit-making.
Participants of the festival adhere to a strict vegetarian diet for at least three days. This is one of the 10 main rules meant to ensure good hygiene and inner peace. Sex, alcohol, and meat are strictly forbidden. As cleanliness is considered to be of paramount importance, menstruating and pregnant women are not supposed to attend any of the rituals. The festival rules also call for impeccable mental and physical behavior as well as white clothing.