Final day of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival
It was like songkran festival with firecrackers instead of water. The final day of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2007 was an absolute cacophony of intense madness. We have never seen or heard anything like it. Imagine every single firework display that ever took place, all happening at exactly the same time.
There was an incessant roar of fireworks going off all around, and it was happening in the street. When we were, we were lucky if our parents would let us hold a sparkler, but at the Vegetarian Festival there were children and parents joining in this mad event, lighting fireworks and firecrackers and throwing them in the road, at passing motorbikes or just at each other.
People stood holding babies with one arm and fireworks in the other. The noise was deafening and the heat was intense. My ears feel like they are burning. As the maa song (entranced horses) marched through the street, thunderous choruses of firecrackers erupted under their feet or else above their heads, thrown at them from all angles.
Smoke filled the air as thousands of people lined the streets to send off the Vegetarian Festival and receive blessings from the maa song.
We were terrified. Fireworks were shooting off everywhere. We saw the spectacle at Saphan Hin. It was about as fitting a way as any to end what is one of the most bizarre events we’ve ever seen.
Even though it goes on every year, and even though there are dubious elements to the Vegetarian Festival (sponsorship of shrines, for example), it is something you have to see. It isn’t even a religious festival – it’s just an incredible, cultural spectacle.