The Phuket Vegetarian Festival: Suffering for his artichokes

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The Independent Online

At a Chinese shrine in Phuket, southern Thailand, a devotee walks on hot coals during a ceremony marking the annual Vegetarian Festival.

During the festival, which begins on the first evening of the ninth lunar month and lasts nine days, religious devotees observe a strict vegetarian diet, but also slash themselves with swords, pierce their cheeks with sharp objects and commit other painful acts to purify themselves, taking on the sins of the community. AFP/Getty