Hundreds of men in Thailand forced horrifyingly sharp spikes, huge knives and the barrels of guns through their cheeks as they celebrated their annual vegetarian festival. Devotees of the Chinese Samkong shrine and the Chinese Ban Tha Rue shrine walked through Phuket yesterday in a procession that worshipped abstinence from meat. The festival, where mediums also attempt to call on spirits, sees followers give up various products during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar.
Many believe their abstinence will help them obtain good health and peace of mind. Pictures from the festival, which lasts for nine days, show men with dozens of silver spikes pierced through their lips and cheeks, while others shoved serrated metal bars and poles through their skin. Ritual vegetarianism in Phuket is believed to have started in the early 1800s. Participants believe the act of body piercing helps to shift evil spirits.