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A colorful event held over a nine day period in early October, this celebrates the Chinese community's belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health and peace of mind.

It is thought that the festival was bought to Phuket by a wandering Chinese opera group who fell ill with malaria while performing on the island. They decided to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet and pray to the Nine Emperor Gods who would ensure purification of the mind and body. On recovery, the people celebrated by holding a festival that was meant to honor the gods as well as express the people's happiness at surviving what was, in the nineteenth century, a fatal illness.

Ma Song, or entranced horses, are devotees whom the gods enter during the feast. They manifest supernatural powers and perform self-tortures in order to shift evil from individuals onto themselves, and to bring the community good luck. Ma Song fall into two categories: those who, having had an intimation of impending doom, want to extend their lives; and people specially chosen by the gods for their moral qualities.
Possession at Phuket vegetarian festivalPsyching oneself readyAt the AltarMa SongGods at KathuAt the AltarPossessionPreparing the mindThe eyesThe FingerKathu GodBringing the god outPiercing the SkinThat's gotta hurtThe PiercingMa SongTongue Piercingno PainReady!Carrying God

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Category:Lifestyle and Recreation
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Keywords:Blood, Chinese, Festival, Phuket, Piercings, Possession, SE Asia, Thailand, Vegetarian Festival, gods