Oct 172010

We’ve been running these “THAT’S METAL!” posts since January, and we’re moderately proud of our ability to find attention-grabbing news items and images that make us exclaim “That’s Metal!”, even though it’s not music. But we have been humbled by our brutal brethren at the Netherlands-based metal blog, Death Metal Baboon. In one fell swoop (or, as the Dutch say, in one swell foop), DMB has found something that puts all our previous efforts to shame.

As explained in a recent DMB post, a religious event called The Vegetarian Festival is now in full swing on the island of Phuket in southern Thailand. (We believe that name is pronounced poo-ket, but fuckit, the pronunciation doesn’t really matter for our purposes.) This festival involves some unusual forms of religious observation. As explained in this article on one of the Phuket web sites:

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival and its rituals are thought by many to bring good fortune to religious followers. Phuket residents of Chinese ancestry, called Hokkien Chinese, follow a strict vegan or vegetarian diet for 10 days for the purposes of merit-making and spiritual cleansing. This is accompanied by sacred rituals at Chinese temples and shrines around the island. Stalls of vegan food are set up throughout Phuket City, and even non-vegans will be suitably impressed by the delicious selection.

Perhaps the most visual of these rituals are the displays of extreme body piercings with large objects that can range from knives to umbrellas. Devotees, called ma song, may even partake in walking over hot coals barefoot or climbing up ladders that have rungs made of knife blades. Visitors can see the ma song walking in their trances during long parades through the streets on every day of the festival.

As DMB further explained, festival-goers also set off thousands of fireworks — and apparently stand as close as they can when the explosions go off, apparently because impaling your cheeks with large objects isn’t painful enough and needs to be accompanied by bleeding eardrums and third-degree burns.

What can we say? This is fucking metal — in a completely demented, self-mutilating way.  DMB displayed a large collection of stomach-turning photos from the festival — but there are more, and we have them, because we know you really would like to have your stomach turned, because why else are you still reading this post after seeing the photo at the top?

So, grab yourself a bucket in case you feel the urge to spew a little, and follow along with us after the jump, as we add our own special narrative travelogue to the pics . . .

There is much to see at the Vegetarian Festival, but the streets are so crowded that driving from event to event is an impossibility. That’s why well-prepared ma song bring bicycles with them. Take this gentleman for example. He will be able to travel in style through the crowded streets, just as soon as he remembers how he got the fucking bicycle through his cheek, so he can get it out again.

Speaking of being prepared and “merit making”, I wonder if they have Boy Scouts in Phuket. I wonder if they go camp out in the woods and earn merit badges for shit like chopping wood and making your own fire. Because if they do, this dude is ready to go.

The weather in Phuket can be unpredictable, and when you’re decked out in your finest festival garb, the last thing you want to have happen is get drenched in a sudden cloud-burst. Having a couple of umbrellas handy can save your finery so you can still make that all-important first impression when you meet other festival-goers.

Speaking of finery, the truly fashion-conscious ma song don’t stop with colorful clothes. They accessorize with broaches and pins, also in assorted eye-catching colors.

This inspiring event is called the Vegetarian Festival for a reason — it’s all about the food. Stalls of vegan delicacies are set up throughout the city, and your mouth will water at the choices! Watching the parade of other festival-goers with assorted large implements stuck through their cheeks will make you want to dig in to a big platter of vegan delights, so don’t leave your carving knives at home. In fact, bring some for your friends, too!

Speaking of mouth watering, you know this young man is imagining just how good some of those vegan delicacies are going to taste. Now, if he could only get the other dude to take that fucking hook out of his mouth.

As all the ma song know, the human head and face are ripe with piercing opportunities. So why stop with the cheeks? The tongue is a perfectly good medium for penetration, too. And we’re not talking about some kind of wimpy tongue studs. This dude will settle for nothing less than piercing his tongue with some big, motherfucking spikes. Awesome!

Don’t be misled into thinking that you have to gouge your face with large objects in order to enjoy the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket. You can have just as much fun carrying small gods on a litter and having them go off like land mines right behind your head. Sure, your ears will bleed and you’ll be concussed for a few days, but at least you can drink beer without having it jet through your cheeks like water from a firehose.

Only a few days are left in this year’s Vegetarian Festival, but as the sun follows the moon, next year will bring another festival, and more opportunities for the ma song and adventurous tourists to fuck themselves up in ways that are limited only by the boundaries of human imagination and the surface area of the human face. We’re looking forward to the day when we can see drumsticks and flying-v guitars inserted through the cheeks and when the procession of the mutilated marches to a song like this, from Spain’s Thirst of Revenge:

Thirst of Revenge: Automutilation

Our advice for the rest of your day? Just blow it all up!

  9 Responses to ““THAT’S METAL!” – BUT IT’S NOT MUSIC (No. 18)”

  1. Poor buggers. If only they had Death Metal, then they could have used that instead of fireworks to make their eardrums bleed!

  2. I know tolerance for other cultures and customs is a good thing, but seriously, what the fuck?

    What bonehead decided to stick objects in their face to celebrate ten days of vegan cuisine? At least, according to the pictures above, some do use a bit of common sense in this practice and use rubber gloves. After all, poking sharp objects into people is going to draw blood.

    I wonder if the fine, reasonable people over at PETA have considered putting on an American version of this festival with their own ma song devotees.

    • Well, not to get too serious here, but the inexplicable mass insanity of this festival could easily stand as a metaphor for the delusional, irrational aspects of religion in general. At some distant point in the past, the Hokkien Chinese in Phuket went from ten days of avoiding meat to skewering their faces with large objects. At an even more distant point, someone leaped from the death of a Jewish spiritual leader to a virgin birth and ritual consumption of the body and blood of the dead man.

      • True, religion does have its share of wtf moments and always has. Faith can be a powerful motivator to do some stupid stuff, but still…

        I can sort of understand the idea of large needles, hooks, knives and the sort. Umbrellas? Wrenches? A fucking bicycle? It may only be a matter of time before you get your wish of seeing a guitar in someone’s face.

        • I would have thought there would be a limit to the size of objects they could insert through their cheeks, but once you see that bicycle photo, you realize there’s really no limit at all, as long as you’ve got some other dudes to help support the weight of whatever you impale yourself with. But yeah, what’s the fucking point?

          • I read somewhere that by doing this they open up their body for some spirit, or god or whatever. Makes perfect sense when you think about it. Obviously you want to be possessed by something higher. And OBVIOUSLY that happens when have a bicycle through your face.

            • I suppose the only real limit some people take is how large a hole they can make in their cheek. I have no doubt that there are some nasty battle scars from people that fell or were bumped by others during the celebrations. How does one explain that to others they meet.

              “Oh this? I had a pipe wrench in my face when some asshole with a bike ran into me while he was in a trance. I did rip the bike from his cheek though, so he looks even worse than I do.”

              I am so glad that there aren’t graphic photos included of some of the other piercings that are possible with this. You know there has to be someone who has shoved stuff in places other than their face, their shoulders/back or arms.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.