Tourists holidaying at Thailand's popular Island beach resort of Phuket on October 13, had the opportunity to see some spectacular feats performed as part of the town's annual vegetarian festival.
GV EXTERIOR Flags flying outside temple (2 shots)
GV People burning incense before temple altar (3 shots)
SV & SCU CU PYLL BACK TO SV Men pierced by lances in cheeks and arms (3 shots)
GV Procession of people with banners preparing to depart, and walking along street (3 shots)
GV ZOOM TO SV Man with lance piercing cheek leading procession
GV Firecrackers exploding as procession passes
GV Firecrackers exploding around feet of people in procession
GV Man dancing around bed of hot ashes
GV Crowd watches as man dances across hot ashes and man carrying religious statue walks across ashes (2 shots)
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Background: Tourists holidaying at Thailand's popular Island beach resort of Phuket on October 13, had the opportunity to see some spectacular feats performed as part of the town's annual vegetarian festival. The first is thought to have been held more than a hundred years ago by a troupe of visiting Chinese players anxious to ward off an epidemic of malaria. Following the apparent success of that first festival, representative from the island's thirty-thousand strong Chinese community were later sent to China's southern province of Kwangsai to learn more about the festival rites. Now, each year thousands of descendants of those original Chinese settlers become vegetarians for nine days in the hope of gaining merit in the eyes of the gods. Religious ceremonies are performed in the town's five major temples, and participants in a grand parade through the streets are showered with firecrackers to ward off evil spirits. The most impressive rites are performed by priests and selected devotees, who pierce their bodies with iron rods and walk across red hot charcoal beds to demonstrate their immunity from pain under the protection of the Gods.