BANGKOK, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's vegetarian festival originated in its southernmost province Phuket is expected to generate 3.4 billion baht (100 million U.S. dollars) in tourism revenue for the country, local media reported Wednesday quoting statistics from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
The festival kicked off on Oct.1 on Thailand's best famous holiday destination Phuket Island, with locals observing nine days of purification in homage to the gods.
According to TAT, thousands of Thais and foreigners, mostly Chinese, Singaporeans and Malaysian, turned out to witness celebrations in Phuket, where the festival first spread in Thailand, making Phuket hotel occupancies increase 72 percent on average.
The festival is famous for the procession of self-mutilated devotees. The devotees, mostly young men known as spirit mediums, run over hot coals and pierce their faces with objects namely metal rods, swords, power tools, pistols, bicycle frames before parading through town.
They are believed to become possessed by spirits which compel them to bloody acts. The more pain trials they suffer, the much more religious they are.
The festival emphasizes purification. Participants must keep their bodies clean and their mind at peace, embodied by the giving up of meat for nine days and dressing in white.