The Phuket Vegetarian Festival... Absolutely Not Safe for Lunch!

Phuket, Thailand, is in the midst of its infamous Vegetarian Festival. Now, if you’re thinking of food stalls, gourmet vegetarian dishes, and brochures on living a healthy lifestyle, think again.

The main ritual of this festival is the stomach-churning Mah Song ceremony. This annual event is led by men, and occasionally women, who are believed to have become possessed by gods, and they proceed to stab themselves with deadly sharp objects. That's right. The god's presence, known as the Mah Song, is thought to protect the body from pain and injury, so even though you may be retching at the sight of a bike wheel coming out of someone’s cheek, the person supposedly cannot feel a thing.

The self-inflicted torture isn’t just to test the gods' strength, it’s also hoped that damage will drive away evil spirits and bring good fortune to their communities. It also makes for one nauseating photo gallery.