Pomp of vegetarian festival awaits visitors in Hat Yai

Hat Yai’s 10-day vegetarian festival later this month will generate at least Bt100 million – from visitors around Thailand and from neighbouring countries, according to a leading hotelier in the business community here, Thai News Agency reported.

Hat Yai-Songkhla Hotels Association president Somchart Pimtanapoonporn said 70-80 per cent of rooms at hotels and other accommodation have been booked for the period, while some are entirely full for the October 19-20 weekend.

The association has joined with the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Hat Yai office and the Songkhla Tourism Business Federation in holding the vegetarian festival at the Mitraparb Sammaki Foundation park in the town centre to attract both practicing vegetarians and tourists.

The traditional Chinese ritual, which runs from October 14 to 23 has become an annual spectacle-cum-religious event for Hat Yai. The Chinese community in other parts of Thailand, including Bangkok, also abstain from consumption of every kind of meat and vegetables with pungent odours.

Those observing the festival generally wear simple white clothing and abstain from eating meat, animal oils as well as garlic, onions, Chinese chives, garlic chives and tobacco.

Chinese communities in Malaysia and Singapore share the same traditional devotion and many visit Hat Yai to join Thais of Chinese descent in the festival.