This week Thai-Chinese communities’ have begun to observe a 9 day festival called the ‘Vegetarian Festival’ also known as Kin Jay (กินเจ). This is a time when Thai-Chinese will refrain from eating meat and animal products as they believe 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.
Streets and building are decorated with yellow banners and flags. Vendors and restaurants all over Thailand switch to selling vegan food and they use yellow flags with red Thai or Chinese characters to signal their participation. Those people who are participating in this festival will be dressed in all white to cleanse themselves of temptations.
This Festival is particularly big in Phuket and there is a legend that many years ago, a famous Chinese opera crew travelled to Phuket to perform for the Chinese inhabitants of the island. Shortly after arriving, the entire crew fell extremely ill. When traditional medicine did not help, they went on a strict vegan diet as well as praying to the Nine Emperor Gods in order to cleanse their bodies and minds. In a short time, the entire Chinese opera crew recovered from their illness, and the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival was born.
The event that kicks off the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival is the raising of a bamboo pole in every Chinese temple across the island ( as seen in the photo). The pole is meant to invite the Nine Emperor Gods down to earth. Towards the end of the Vegetarian Festival, devotees are seen in brightly-colored traditional Chinese costumes, parading around with body piercings. On the last day, small fire crackers are set off and thrown at devotees as they parade through the streets as a way to ward off evil spirits.
As many participate in this festival over the next 9 days please pray for protection on those who are observing the parades and pray for those who know Jesus to proclaim his victory over the Spirits that are being worshipped during this Festival. May we see Jesus lifted High in Thailand.