It is not known for certain when the first Vegetarian Festival was held in Phuket. It is assumed that the custom started in the period of Thalang Governor Jerm in 1825 when a number of Chinese came to work in tin mines in Ban Get Hoe in Phuket.
Legend has it that a Chinese drama troupe turned vegetarian in the belief that by doing so malaria prevalent on the island at the time could be driven away. Followers must abstain from meat, alcohol and sex for nine days and night as a homage to the Nine Emperor Gods (The Star Deities).
The Chinese community then sent an emissary to South China to learn more about vegetarian rites. During the festival which normally falls on the first nine days of the ninth Chinese lunar month, thousands of participants turn completely vegetarian to purify both body and mind in order to attend ceremonies.
Aesthetic displays are performed by participants which include piercing the body and face with sharp objects and walking barefooted on hot charcoal, all in the belief that good health and peaceful mind will be attained.