The processions that are held in the streets of Phuket Town during the vegetarian festival are colorful and gruesome, inspiring and bloody at the same time. Hundreds of thousands of people flock the streets in the hope to receive the blessings of the Gods. Deities are carried around on bamboo floats in a wall of sound and sparks filled fog. Blood drenched men open the processions. They cut their foreheads, chests and backs with sharpened axes. Possessed men twist their bodies and dance around frantically. Men and women have pierced their faces with large sharp objects. Some have their foreheads, chins, arms and legs covered in colored fishhooks.
The annual vegetarian festival in Phuket is held to honor the nine Emperor Gods who control human destiny in Phuket's Taoism. Their blessing power is tripled during the festival and is meant to give their followers longevity, good luck and wealth.
Mediums are chosen by the Gods to eradicate last year's misfortunes. They are called ma song, the Chinese word for horse, as they are the vehicles for the Gods. Through acts of self-mutilation, like piercing the body with sharp objects, they take upon themselves the sins of the devotees and cleanse their souls.
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