Worshippers Pierce Faces With Metal Spikes And Axes At Thai Vegetarian Festival
Festival goers have marched through the streets of Thailand with metal spikes through their faces as part of a long-standing ritual.
The annual Vegetarian Festival sees people pierce their faces with objects such as spikes and axes as they walk through the streets of Phuket.
Some even slice their tongues open as they parade through the town.
The festival lasts for nine days, and is in honour of the Taoist beliefs of the Nine Emperor Gods. It's also celebrated in other South East Asian countries, including Singapore and Malaysia.
Precise details are sketchy as to how the Phuket Vegetarian Festival started, but a common belief is that it was brought to the island by a group of opera singers from China, who fell ill during a malaria epidemic in the 19th century.
During the festival, partakers traditionally abstain from eating meat, drinking alcohol, having sex, telling lies and - thankfully - killing.
It was supposed to bring on purification of the mind.
Soon after the original celebration, the epidemic subsided, and it has continued ever since.
Those involved in the festival can also be seen running over hot coals and climbing ladders that have razor blades on the steps.
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The music and beating of the drums is said to help them go into a trance-like state, where they are thought to be 'possessed' by the gods and feel no physical pain.
Other years have seen attendees pierce their cheeks with other objects, including sports racquets and chopsticks.
The festival has taken on more meaning in 2020, as it has become the first major event given the green light to go ahead, after coronavirus restrictions meant that most others were cancelled.
Like many other places around the world, Thailand's tourist industry has been almost non-existent over most of the year.
A zoo in Phuket was found in a horrific state after the the owners were left bankrupt due to a lack of funds from tourists.
Minh Nyugen, an Australian man, living and working in Thailand, was out on a walk with friends when he discovered starving tigers, dozens of alligators and eight bears living in squalor.
Minh posted the video to YouTube and has even set up a GoFundMe to try to raise money for the zoo.
According to The Thaiger, the owners of the zoo are bankrupt and have since filed to completely close down the facility amid the coronavirus lockdown which has led to a lack of tourism.
Featured Image Credit: Getty
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