Thai men pierce their faces with swords, needles and household objects in a celebration to please the gods.WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT.

THE VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL of Phuket is held during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar and is famous for its gruesome displays of self mutilation. A celebration in honor of the Chinese gods, it is five days of colorful parades, rituals and men puncturing their faces with swords.

From ‘One of the most exciting aspects of the festival is the various ceremonies which are held to invoke the gods. Firewalking, body piercing and other acts of self mortification undertaken by participants acting as mediums of the gods, have become more spectacular and daring as each year goes by.’

To most people the images in this video may be a little hard to watch. In the States we are not accustomed to public displays of religious gore but mortification of the flesh has also been observed in Western culture in the not-so-distant past. In fact, Catholicism has a rich history of righteous suffering and self mortification.

Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder how many cases of Hepatitis are spread at the Vegetarian Festival and I find myself reaching for the Purell.

Video created by Mike Corey