Feast of pain: Thailand’s bizarre veggie festival

UPDATED ON OCT 21, 2015 07:40 PM IST 8 Photos
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A devotee to the Chinese Shrine Ban Tha Rue in Phuket goes into a trance with her tongue and face pierced. The annual Vegetarian Festival and its accompanying sacred rituals are believed to bestow good fortune on those who practice the religious rites. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

A devotee to the Chinese Shrine Ban Tha Rue in Phuket goes into a trance with her tongue and face pierced. The annual Vegetarian Festival and its accompanying sacred rituals are believed to bestow good fortune on those who practice the religious rites. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

UPDATED ON OCT 21, 2015 07:40 PM IST
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A devotee to the Chinese shrine of Ban Tha Rue waves a ceremonial flag after having his face pierced prior to a street procession. During the nine-day festival in Phuket Town , residents observe a strict vegetarian or vegan diet that is believed to cleanse the body and grant merit. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

A devotee to the Chinese shrine of Ban Tha Rue waves a ceremonial flag after having his face pierced prior to a street procession. During the nine-day festival in Phuket Town , residents observe a strict vegetarian or vegan diet that is believed to cleanse the body and grant merit. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

UPDATED ON OCT 21, 2015 07:40 PM IST
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Men and women devotees during the festival work themselves into trances to have all manner of knives, daggers, swords or other items pierced through their cheeks. It is believed that they experience no pain while in the trance. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

Men and women devotees during the festival work themselves into trances to have all manner of knives, daggers, swords or other items pierced through their cheeks. It is believed that they experience no pain while in the trance. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

UPDATED ON OCT 21, 2015 07:40 PM IST
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Chinese emperor gods spikes are displayed outside the Chinese shrine of Ban Tha Rue in Phuket. The Vegetarian Festival begins on the eve of the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar and is observed primarily in Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar.. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

Chinese emperor gods spikes are displayed outside the Chinese shrine of Ban Tha Rue in Phuket. The Vegetarian Festival begins on the eve of the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar and is observed primarily in Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar.. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

UPDATED ON OCT 21, 2015 07:40 PM IST
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A devotee to the Chinese shrine of Ban Tha Rue has his face and arms pierced prior to a street procession. The festival is believed to bestow good fortune on those who practice the religious rites. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

A devotee to the Chinese shrine of Ban Tha Rue has his face and arms pierced prior to a street procession. The festival is believed to bestow good fortune on those who practice the religious rites. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

UPDATED ON OCT 21, 2015 07:40 PM IST
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The most striking element of the nine-day celebration has little to do with food. In sacred rituals, devotees work themselves into trances to have all manner of items pierced through their cheeks, from daggers and swords to a bicycle. Then they dance as massive strings of fireworks explode all around them. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

The most striking element of the nine-day celebration has little to do with food. In sacred rituals, devotees work themselves into trances to have all manner of items pierced through their cheeks, from daggers and swords to a bicycle. Then they dance as massive strings of fireworks explode all around them. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

UPDATED ON OCT 21, 2015 07:40 PM IST
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Devotees to the Chinese shrine of Bang Liao have fireworks exploded over them as they carry a portable shrine during a street procession in Phuket. The festival is more than sprouts and tofu: it’s an assault on the senses, and for the most devout, on the body itself. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

Devotees to the Chinese shrine of Bang Liao have fireworks exploded over them as they carry a portable shrine during a street procession in Phuket. The festival is more than sprouts and tofu: it’s an assault on the senses, and for the most devout, on the body itself. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

UPDATED ON OCT 21, 2015 07:40 PM IST
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A devotee has his cheek pierced with a bicycle as he and others walk in a street procession in Phuket, Thailand. The annual Vegetarian Festival is believed to bestow good fortune on those who practice the religious rites. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

A devotee has his cheek pierced with a bicycle as he and others walk in a street procession in Phuket, Thailand. The annual Vegetarian Festival is believed to bestow good fortune on those who practice the religious rites. (AP Photo/David Longstreath) (AP)

UPDATED ON OCT 21, 2015 07:40 PM IST
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