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A devotee of the Chinese Samkong Shrine walks with flowers pierced through his cheeks during a procession celebrating the annual vegetarian festival in Phuket, Thailand, October 16, 2015. (Photo by Jorge Silva/Reuters)

A devotee of the Chinese Samkong Shrine walks with flowers pierced through his cheeks during a procession celebrating the annual vegetarian festival in Phuket, Thailand, October 16, 2015. The festival, featuring face-piercing, spirit mediums and strict vegetarianism celebrates the local Chinese community's belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health and peace of mind. (Photo by Jorge Silva/Reuters)
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19 Oct 2015 08:06:00
A devotee of the Ban Tha Rua Chinese shrine is helped with a spike pierced through her cheeks during a street procession celebrating the annual vegetarian festival in Phuket September 28, 2014. (Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

A devotee of the Ban Tha Rua Chinese shrine is helped with a spike pierced through her cheeks during a street procession celebrating the annual vegetarian festival in Phuket September 28, 2014. The festival, featuring face-piercing, spirit mediums and strict vegetarianism celebrates the local Chinese community's belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health and peace of mind. (Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters)
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28 Sep 2014 11:34:00
A devotee gest pierced at the Bang Neow shrine in Phuket. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

“The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is a nine-day Taoist celebration beginning on the eve of 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, which is observed primarily in Southeast Asian countries like Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and also the Riau Islands. In Thailand, this festival is called Tesagan Gin Je, the Vegetarian Festival. It is celebrated throughout the entire country, but the festivities are at their height in Phuket, where about 35% of the population is Chinese. It attracts crowds of spectators because of many of the unusual religious rituals that are performed”. – Wikipedia. Photo: A devotee gest pierced at the Bang Neow shrine in Phuket. (Photo by Paula Bronstein)
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11 Oct 2013 07:49:00
Tourist take pictures at Mai Khao Beach, as a plane approaches the Phuket International Airport in Phuket, Thailand March 17, 2016. With its palm-fringed beaches, Buddhist culture and racy nightlife, Thailand has been the poster child for Asian tourism for decades, attracting a range of visitors from backpackers and adventure-seekers, to families and culture vultures. But dark clouds could be forming even as a record of 32 million tourists are expected this year. (Photo by Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Tourist take pictures at Mai Khao Beach, as a plane approaches the Phuket International Airport in Phuket, Thailand March 17, 2016. With its palm-fringed beaches, Buddhist culture and racy nightlife, Thailand has been the poster child for Asian tourism for decades, attracting a range of visitors from backpackers and adventure-seekers, to families and culture vultures. But dark clouds could be forming even as a record of 32 million tourists are expected this year. (Photo by Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)
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31 Mar 2016 11:01:00
A devotee of the Chinese Ban Tha Rue shrine walks with guns pierced through his cheeks during a procession celebrating the annual vegetarian festival in Phuket, Thailand, October 17, 2015.

A devotee of the Chinese Ban Tha Rue shrine walks with guns pierced through his cheeks during a procession celebrating the annual vegetarian festival in Phuket, Thailand, October 17, 2015. The festival, featuring face-piercing, spirit mediums and strict vegetarianism celebrates the local Chinese community's belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health and peace of mind. (Photo by Jorge Silva/Reuters)
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20 Oct 2015 08:01:00
A devotee of the Chinese Jui Tui Shrine has his face pierced with metal rods during a street procession during the annual Vegetarian Festival in the southern Thai town of Phuket on October 19, 2015. During the festival, which begins on the first evening of the ninth lunar month and lasts nine days, religious devotees slash themselves with swords, pierce their cheeks with sharp objects and commit other painful acts to purify themselves, taking on the sins of the community. (Photo by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP Photo)

A devotee of the Chinese Jui Tui Shrine has his face pierced with metal rods during a street procession during the annual Vegetarian Festival in the southern Thai town of Phuket on October 19, 2015. During the festival, which begins on the first evening of the ninth lunar month and lasts nine days, religious devotees slash themselves with swords, pierce their cheeks with sharp objects and commit other painful acts to purify themselves, taking on the sins of the community. (Photo by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP Photo)
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21 Oct 2015 08:05:00
Devotees Practice Self Mutilation At Phuket Vegetarian Festival

A devotee of the Chinese shrine of Kathu Shrine, pierces his cheeks with umbrellas during a procession of Vegetarian Festival on October 4, 2011 in Phuket, Thailand. Ritual Vegetarianism in Phuket Island traces it roots back to the early 1800's. The festival begins on the first evening of the ninth lunar month and lasts for nine days. Participants in the festival perform acts of body piercing as a means of shifting evil spirits from individuals onto themselves and bring the community good luck. (Photo by Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images)
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04 Oct 2011 10:49:00
A devotee of the Chinese Bang Neow Shrine, with two plastic guns pierced through his cheeks, takes part in a street procession celebrating the annual vegetarian festival in Phuket September 29, 2014. (Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

A devotee of the Chinese Bang Neow Shrine, with two plastic guns pierced through his cheeks, takes part in a street procession celebrating the annual vegetarian festival in Phuket September 29, 2014. The festival, featuring face-piercing, spirit mediums and strict vegetarianism celebrates the local Chinese community's belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health and peace of mind. (Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters)
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29 Sep 2014 10:36:00