Thailand today started celebrating the 9-day vegetarian festival with several provinces making the event colourful and impressive to attract tourists.
Highlight of the festival celebration in Bangkok is at Yaowarat or Chinatown where there will be dragon dance, and processions of divine images from 22 Chinese shrines in the capital.
This spectacular procession will comprise floral floats and divine images that marks the grand opening of the festival along Yaowarat road in Bangkok's Chinatown.
There is also a colourful ceremony to choose a local girl to represent Guan Yin or the Goddess of Mercy.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Yaowarat vegetarian festival showcases the traditional vegetarian diet for the purposes of spiritual cleansing and gives the chance to do some merit-making with the locals.
Other provinces holding grand event to celebrate the festival include Pattaya, Phuket, Hat Yai, Nakhon Sawan, and Samut Songkram.
In Pattaya, the festival will be at its liveliest around the Sawang Boriboon Foundation in Na Klua district, about a 30-minute drive from Pattaya city centre.
Highlights of the event include the display of a special vegan dish, fried on a massive frying pan and then given out to the public. There is also a procession to invite the gods and goddess to the foundation's Chinese shrine. Participants are required to wear white during the entire ceremony.
Meanwhile in Nakhon Sawan, one of the country's most colourful vegetarian festivals is centered around Chao Por-Chao Mae Na Pha Shrine, in Pak Nam Pho.
A special ritual is held to worship the sacred God and Goddess according to the Chinese beliefs.
The province is inviting local and foreign travellers to join the festival, taste healthy vegetarian food and to make merit with the locals, for all nine days of the celebrations.
In Samut Songkram, the celebration is held at Naja Tai Zue Iea Gong.
It will last for 10 days from 30 September � 9 October.
During the event, visitors can get a special passport and map of the nine shrines of the city's guardian spirits. They can get walk around all the shrines to make merit to earn a symbolic goddess coin that will bring them good luck for the rest of the year.
There will also be a ritual to invite god and goddess to stay at the shrine for the worshiping during the 10 days and 10 nights of the vegetarian festival.
Moreover, the province's biggest barque for divine gods was built for the worshipers to worship. The ship was four metres wide, 12 metres long and seven metres high.
In Songkhla, the ceremony to raise Go Teng Pole was held to mark the starting of the vegetarian festival.
During the ceremony, 10,000 fire crackers were set off as well as nine canon fire crackers and a set of 198 canon fire crackers to celebrate the beginning of the festival.
The vegetarians would start having the vegetarian food today in preparation to adjust their body before the beginning of the Festival on Saturday.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)