Richard I'Anson

Vegetarian Festival, Phuket

Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival is extraordinary. For nine days and nights devotees, primarily Thais with Chinese ancestry, wear white, observe a vegetarian diet, abstain from alcohol and sex and perform religious rites to purify body and mind. Celebrated most famously in Phuket, the festival sees gods from the temples paraded around town on palanquins. The raucous processions are incessantly showered with fire crackers, filling the air with noise, smoke and red paper. However, what makes the festival such a remarkable spectacle are the mah song, or spirit mediums. Once the spirits have entered their body, and in a trance-like state, their cheeks and tongues are pierced, often with the most bizarre objects imaginable. Protected from pain by the spirits the mah song accompany the gods in procession, often walking for several hours before another ritual sees the spirits leave their body. The noise, smoke, crowds, heat, humidity and religious fervour make it a challenging but wonderful festival to photograph. However, be warned, some of the images are graphic and not for the squeamish!


  1. 7genius7

    Hi Richard

    Wonderful images that definitely capture the moment!!

    Some send a shiver down my spine

    I have a question if I may.I will be In Siem Reap for 6 days and of course will go to see Angkor Wat. Have you been there and if so do you have any tips for capturing images there? I am wondering if the temples might be a bit on the dark side.

    Hope you are well and Happy New Year.

    Looking forward to Tibet



    • Hi Malcolm,

      Yep I’ve been. As usual best time is early morning and late afternoon to get texture in the rocks. And you get to avoid the heat. From memory most of the pictures are of the temple buildings rather than interiors so light shouldn’t be a problem for the majority of photo opps. The ruins are extensive so several visits are required to capture the main temples in the best light (you can’t be everywhere at once!). Apart from that nothing particularly specific I’m sorry. When do you go? Have a great time.


      *Richard I’Anson* Photographer

      e: t: + 61 412 292 408 w: fb:

      On 14 January 2014 22:02, Richard I'Ans

  2. johnberk

    Amazing photos!I can see how diverse cultures can express themselves in different ways such as Thailand or Canada. Even when they celebrate a vegetarian festival, they show us their culture, lifestyle and typical cuisine.

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