Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nine Emperor Gods Festival / Mah song

When i was in Phuket last week, i participated in what the local Phuketans call "The vegetarian festival" which sounded very tame & friendly

And not participation by will, more like i was trying to pay Phuket town a visit and i bumped into this festival.

Anyway, this festival was huge. So massive an entire stretch of road that cuts through the main city area was shut down for this procession, in commemoration of "The vegetarian festival"

As we blended into the crowd, it was in fact very welcoming initially as everyone was in white and there were emblems on some of these white shirts that goes "Save the planet" .. "Go green", which i thought matched the team of the festivel - The vegetarian festival.

Well not until i saw this - i was perplexed.

It was literally a transvestite, marching down the road... possesed. She, i mean he was shaking his head and didnt appear to be aware of his surroundings.


I wanted to knock off and head back to Patong beach, but the more i saw... the more it hooked me on.... talk about bizzare culture.

I then came to see this "lady in red".. possesed by mediums too. She had the voice of a very young girl and was asking around for candy.

If possession sounds quite negative to you, they actually take it as a blessing. Here's a phrase from wikipedia, explaining why they actually invite spirits to posses their bodies.
" Mah song ม้าทรง are the people who invite the spirits of gods to possess their bodies. Mah ม้า is the word for horse in Thai, and the name mah song refers to how the spirits of the gods use the bodies of these people as a vehicle, as one rides a horse. Only pure, unmarried men or women without families of their own can become mah song. At the temple they undergo a series of rituals to protect them for the duration of the festival, during which flagellation and self-mutilation is practiced
The festivities in Phuket include a procession of mah song wearing elaborate costumes who pierce their cheeks and tongues with all manner of things, including swords, banners, machine guns, table lamps, and flowers. While the face is the most common area pierced, some also pierce their arms with pins and fishhooks "
This will kinda set the scene for the pictures you are about to see.

Now take a look at the boys by the road holding on to polls which had firecrackers dangling from them. Well i won't be surprised if you're imagining what those are for but you'll get it at the very end of this blog post.

Some of the possesed Mah Song's not only marched down the street, but they were also blessing practitioners who gave praise, in bow, to them. They carried black background flags, with alot of Chinese characters and symbols printed on them, and they put it over the faithfuls' heads.

Transvestites again. With all due respect, isnt going against your nature (God has given) going against... God? I mean from my religious upbringing, this is what i was taught so again, with all due respect, i find this a bit difficult to comprehend.
And the explanation from Wikipedia did say that you will need to be "pure" to be able to become a Mah song.

So i was actually staying away from the transvestites, worried that they might have invited the wrong spirits in them.

More possesed Mah songs.

After most of the Mah Songs marched back from the waters, back to the temples, some statues were ferried across the streets.
What was quite interesting was: The people who were carrying this particular statue seems to be sponsored by Tesco.

WOW... i definitely stayed away from these 2 buggers.

And now this is what the poles of firecrackers were for.... BLASTING the gods to kingdom come

Crazy ass shit man...


Huai Bin said...

Hey that destroying the gods with firecrackers thing is pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

scary shit!
But its worth the experience, do you enjoy Phuket trip?

I saw you last week at an event but was too shy to say hello :)