The Phuket Vegetarian Festival Kicked off this weekend in Spectacular Fashion: Ok so what is it and why do people Pierce their Faces with Spears and swords? The Festival is a Chinese Tradition that Pays Homage to the nine Emperor Gods. In Phuket the Tradition is believed to have been started by a Chinese Opera Troupe almost 100 years ago, on arriving in Phuket many opera members fell ill to Malaria. They decided to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet and pray to the Nine Emperor Gods to ensure purification of the mind and body. To everyone's amazement the opera group made a complete recovery. The people celebrated by holding a festival that was meant to honor the gods as well as express the people's happiness at surviving what was, in the early 19th century, a fatal illness. One of the more gruesome aspects of the festival are the various, ceremonies which are held to invoke the gods. Fire-walking, body piercing and other acts of self mortification undertaken by participants acting as mediums of the gods, Men and women puncture their cheeks with various items including knives, skewers and other household items. It is believed that the Chinese gods will protect such persons from harm, and little blood or scarring results from such mutilation acts.