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PHUKET VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL !!!

1st OCTOBER 2016

A colourful event held over a nine day period in late September/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. The ceremonies of the festival take place in the vicinity of the six Chinese temples scattered throughout Phuket. The main temple is Jui Tui Shrine not far from the Fresh Market in Phuket Town. The first event is the raising of the Lantern Pole, an act that notifies the nine Chinese gods that the festival is about to begin.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

The pole is at least ten metres tall and once erected, celebrants believe that the Hindu god, Shiva, descends bringing spiritual power to the event. Usually street processions take place, where visitors can see participants walking in a trance. Other events include hundreds of local residents running across a bed of burning coals, or climbing an eight metre ladder of sharp blades while in trance. Apart from the visual spectacle of this festival, visitors can partake in specially prepared vegetarian cuisine made available at street stalls and markets around the island during this time.

One of the most exciting aspects of the festival is the various, (and sometimes gruesome) ceremonies which are held to invoke the gods. Firewalking, body piercing and other acts of self mortification undertaken by participants acting as mediums of the gods, have become more spectacular and daring as each year goes by. Men and women puncture their cheeks with various items including knives, skewers and other household items. It is believed that the Chinese gods will protect such persons from harm, and little blood or scarring results from such mutilation acts. This is definitely not recommended for the feint hearted to witness.

SONGKRAN FESTIVAL

The next Big Event in Thailand is the SONGKRAN FESTIVAL held Every Year from the 13th to 15th April.

The Songkran festival ; from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti,[1] or literally “astrological passage”) is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year’s Day from 13 to 15 April. It coincides with the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asia.

The date of the festival was originally set by astrological calculation, but it is now fixed. If these days fall on a weekend, the missed days off are taken on the weekdays immediately following. Songkran falls in the hottest time of the year in Thailand, at the end of the dry season. Until 1888 the Thai New Year was the beginning of the year in Thailand; thereafter 1 April was used until 1940. 1 January is now the beginning of the year. The traditional Thai New Year has been a national holiday since then.

Songkran has traditionally been celebrated as the New Year for many centuries, and is believed to have been adapted from an Indian festival. It is now observed nationwide, even in the far south. However, the most famous Songkran celebrations are still in the northern city of Chiang Mai, where it continues for six days and even longer. It has also become a party for foreigners and an additional reason for many to visit Thailand for immersion in another culture.

The most obvious celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water. Thais roam the streets with containers of water or water guns (sometimes mixed with mentholated talc), or post themselves at the side of roads with a garden hose and drench each other and passersby. This, however, was not always the main activity of this festival. Songkran was traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends, neighbors, and monks.

Besides the throwing of water, people celebrating Songkran as a Buddhist festival may also go to a wat (Buddhist monastery) to pray and give food to monks. They may also cleanse Buddha images from household shrines as well as Buddha images at monasteries by gently pouring water mixed with a Thai fragrance (Thai: น้ำอบไทย) over them. It is believed that doing this will bring good luck and prosperity for the New Year. In many cities, such as Chiang Mai, the Buddha images from all of the city’s important monasteries are paraded through the streets so that people can toss water at them, ritually ‘bathing’ the images, as they pass by on ornately decorated floats. In northern Thailand, people may carry handfuls of sand to their neighborhood monastery in order to recompense the dirt that they have carried away on their feet during the rest of the year. The sand is then sculpted into stupa-shaped piles and decorated with colorful flags.

Some people make New Year resolutions – to refrain from bad behavior, or to do good things. Songkran is a time for cleaning and renewal. Besides washing household Buddha images, many Thais also take this opportunity to give their home a thorough cleaning.

The throwing of water originated as a way to pay respect to people, by capturing the water after it had been poured over the Buddhas for cleansing and then using this “blessed” water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder. Among young people the holiday evolved to include dousing strangers with water to relieve the heat, since April is the hottest month in Thailand (temperatures can rise to over 100°F or 40°C on some days). This has further evolved into water fights and splashing water over people riding in vehicles.

Nowadays, the emphasis is on fun and water-throwing rather than on the festival’s spiritual and religious aspects, which sometimes prompts complaints from traditionalists. In recent years there have been calls to moderate the festival to lessen the many alcohol-related road accidents as well as injuries attributed to extreme behavior such as water being thrown in the faces of traveling motorcyclists.

The water is meant as a symbol of washing all of the bad away and is sometimes filled with fragrant herbs when celebrated in the traditional manner.[2]

Songkran is also celebrated in many places with a pageant in which young women demonstrate their beauty and unique talents, as judged by the audience. The level of financial support usually determines the winner, since, to show your support you must purchase necklaces which you place on your chosen girl.

PHUKET VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL

1st OCTOBER 2016

A colourful event held over a nine day period in late September/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. The ceremonies of the festival take place in the vicinity of the six Chinese temples scattered throughout Phuket. The main temple is Jui Tui Shrine not far from the Fresh Market in Phuket Town. The first event is the raising of the Lantern Pole, an act that notifies the nine Chinese gods that the festival is about to begin.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

The pole is at least ten metres tall and once erected, celebrants believe that the Hindu god, Shiva, descends bringing spiritual power to the event. Usually street processions take place, where visitors can see participants walking in a trance. Other events include hundreds of local residents running across a bed of burning coals, or climbing an eight metre ladder of sharp blades while in trance. Apart from the visual spectacle of this festival, visitors can partake in specially prepared vegetarian cuisine made available at street stalls and markets around the island during this time.

One of the most exciting aspects of the festival is the various, (and sometimes gruesome) ceremonies which are held to invoke the gods. Firewalking, body piercing and other acts of self mortification undertaken by participants acting as mediums of the gods, have become more spectacular and daring as each year goes by. Men and women puncture their cheeks with various items including knives, skewers and other household items. It is believed that the Chinese gods will protect such persons from harm, and little blood or scarring results from such mutilation acts. This is definitely not recommended for the feint hearted to witness.

THE KINGS CUP REGATTA – 30th November to 7th December 2013

In 1986, a number of Thailand’s yachting fraternity met to discuss what they could do as a special tribute to His Majesty the King’s forthcoming Fifth Cycle, or 60th birthday, the following year on December 5, 1987.

The Kings Cup Regatta

After considerable discussion, it was decided to hold a Royal Regatta – in Phuket – the first ever held in the beautiful waters of the Andaman Sea. Phuket’s famous international yachting event returns to the azure waters of the Andaman Ocean in December for a week of partying, sailing, beautiful people and great fun.

This year marks the event’s 25th year of prominence on the Asian yacht racing calendar.
The King’s Cup Regatta attracts some of the world’s best yachtsmen, ‘yachtswomen’ and their expensive boats to the waters of Kata Beach, off the island’s west coast, where these local and visiting sailors vie for the coveted trophy, creating a truly spectacular sight in the process. Beginning on November 30th, the races run until December 7th.

Origins of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta (source – http://www.kingscup.com/history.cfm)

The inaugural Phuket King’s Cup Regatta was founded in 1987 by Royal Varuna sailors including Commodore Chris King, Dr Rachot Kanjanavanit, Al Chandler, Adolph Knees and others. It was yachting and Phuket aficionado M.L. Tridosyuth Devakul, better known as renowned architect and developer Mom Tri, who placed the resources of his then recently opened Phuket Yacht Club Hotel at Nai Harn Bay in Phuket at the regatta organiser’s disposal.

The regatta began with a mixture of keelboats, catamarans, Lasers and even windsurfers. Few who were there at the time will ever forget Varuna member Reg Chambers, who sailed a Laser, calling “starboard” on a 45-ft keelboat, which had to give way.

Like any prominent yacht racing event, the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta has developed its own folk-lore. Scott McCook, for example, who sailed his beach-launched catamaran up from Singapore, won all five races one year, then sailed the small cat back to Singapore.

More recently the regatta has become a big boat event, attracting keelboats and ocean-going catamaran teams from around the world. As a principal fixture on the Asian Yachting Circuit, the regatta annually features upwards of 90 boats (record of 103 in 2007) and 2,000 sailors, ranging from the Formula One of the sea lanes, the Racing Class, to live-aboard ocean cruisers, multihulls and classics.

International-standard race management has been combined with lively beach parties on most nights during regatta week to create a world-renowned yacht racing event.

Under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King of Thailand, the Regatta is organised by the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta Organising Committee under the auspices of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, in conjunction with the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, the Royal Thai Navy and the Province of Phuket.

LOY KRATONG 2015

25TH NOVEMBER 2015

On the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, the tide in the rivers is highest and the moon at its brightest, creating a romantic setting ideal for lovers. The Thai people choose this day to hold the ‘Loy Kratong’ festival aka ‘The Festival of Light’. Loy Kratong is one of the two most recognized festivals in the country.

Loy Kratong Festival

Loy Kratong is probably the most picturesque and beautiful of all Thai celebrations. ‘Loy’ literally means ‘to float,’ while ‘kratong’ refers to the lotus-shaped receptacle which can float on the water. Originally, the kratong was made of banana leaves or the layers of the trunk of a banana tree or a spider lily plant. A kratong contains food, betel nuts, flowers, joss sticks, candle and coins. The making of a kratong is much more creative these days as many more materials are available.

They watch intently as the float drifts silently away, hoping that the candle will not go out. Its flame is said to signify longevity, fulfilment of wishes and release from sins. Altogether it is considered a romantic night for couples or lovers. Couples who make a wish together on Loy Kratong are thought to stay together in the future.

Meanwhile, up above, thousands of ‘khom loy’ (floating lanterns) drift into the night sky. These large balloon-like lanterns are launched into the air where they resemble large flocks of giant fluorescent jellyfish gracefully floating by through the sky in the hope that misfortune flies away with them.

Loy Kratong Festival

On the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, the tide in the rivers is highest and the moon at its brightest, creating a romantic setting ideal for lovers. The Thai people choose this day to hold the ‘Loy Kratong’ festival aka ‘The Festival of Light’. Loy Kratong is one of the two most recognized festivals in the country.

Loy Kratong Festival

Loy Kratong is probably the most picturesque and beautiful of all Thai celebrations. ‘Loy’ literally means ‘to float,’ while ‘kratong’ refers to the lotus-shaped receptacle which can float on the water. Originally, the kratong was made of banana leaves or the layers of the trunk of a banana tree or a spider lily plant. A kratong contains food, betel nuts, flowers, joss sticks, candle and coins. The making of a kratong is much more creative these days as many more materials are available.

They watch intently as the float drifts silently away, hoping that the candle will not go out. Its flame is said to signify longevity, fulfilment of wishes and release from sins. Altogether it is considered a romantic night for couples or lovers. Couples who make a wish together on Loy Kratong are thought to stay together in the future.

Meanwhile, up above, thousands of ‘khom loy’ (floating lanterns) drift into the night sky. These large balloon-like lanterns are launched into the air where they resemble large flocks of giant fluorescent jellyfish gracefully floating by through the sky in the hope that misfortune flies away with them.

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