Chinese Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok: A Feast for the Senses

While enjoying sunset cocktails on the rooftop of the Riverview Guesthouse in Bangkok, we were drawn to the edge of the deck by what sounded like a celebration.
View from the Rivervibe Restaurant in Bangkok
View from the Rivervibe Restaurant

Looking down onto a large warehouse we could see, through the open entrance, massive candles being erected and lit by teams of men in yellow. The smoke and smell of incense wafted up to the rooftop where we stood watching while and the sound of music and beat of drums filled our ears. Naturally, being the curious travel bloggers we are we finished our drinks and set off to get a closer look.

It turns out that the entrance to the warehouse we had seen from above was directly across from the exit of the Riverview bar. Immediately all of our senses were alive as we were engulfed in the smells, sights and sounds of the scene before us.

We came face to face with the large red incense sticks we had seen from our viewpoint and their size was even more impressive as they towered above us billowing a heady scented smoke from their over sized wicks.

As is the norm in Thailand we were greeted with smiles and a group of young men in yellow, the candle erectors themselves, posed for photos with our companions.

Behind us was an elaborate archway through which we could see monks sitting in prayer. Around the other side of the platform holding the red incense were giant candles of vibrant yellow. Men were busy scraping away the hot drippings to keep the candles clean and people were lining up to purchase incense as prayer offerings. Looking up we saw that the ceiling was also full of color being adorned with yellow lanterns and large spirals of burning incense.

At the far end of the warehouse, turned temple, was a brightly lit stage where men and women dressed in exotically colorful costumes were performing what looked to be a sort of opera for the enthralled audience seated on plastic chairs. Despite the religious connotations it was by no means a somber atmosphere.

Once we had recovered from our awe of the temple we ventured out into the narrow streets of Chinatown. Here we were again thrilled as we found rows of stands displaying delicious looking food and drink. At one stall we watched as men pounded a dough substance with large mallets into a 1/2” thick layer which they then rolled up and cut into pieces. We were offered a taste and it turned out to be a sort of peanut brittle, really very delicious and a traditional treat of this festival.

Chinese Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok
Chinese opera at the Chinese Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok
Chinese Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok
Prayer candles at the Chinese Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok
Chinese Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok
Massive Incense at the Chinese Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok
Streets of Chinatown during the Chinese Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok
Streets of Chinatown
Delicious food at the Chinese Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok
Delicious food at the Chinese Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok
Beautifully displayed food at the Chinese Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok
Food as beautiful as it was delicious
So what was this all about?

After some research we found out that what we’d serendipitously stumbled across was the Tesagan Gin Je Festival. This is a Chinese vegetarian festival in Bangkok in celebration to the nine Emperor Gods. The festival happens during the ninth Chinese lunar month every year which this year runs from October 12th-20th. There are celebrations, performances and vegetarian delights during this period although they are apparently much more subdued here than in Phuket which is the real epicenter of the Chinese festival here in Thailand.

So if you find yourself in Phuket or Bangkok during this delightful festival definitely grab your camera and your appetite and make your way to the celebration site to enjoy a feast for the senses.

Here is a short video to whet your appetite and get a taste of the festivities:

Tesagan Gin Je Festival (Vegetarian Festival) is originally Chinese and is a celebration to the nine Emperor Gods. They give up fish, dairy, meat and poultry for 9 days to cleanse the body. A unique experience to say the least!

Posted by Fit Living Lifestyle on Monday, October 12, 2015

For more information on the Chinese Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok visit Bangkok.com

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