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The Por Tor Festival of Phuket
The Por Tor or Hungry Ghost Festival of Phuket is an ancient religious ceremony originating from a Chinese tradition. In the seventh month of the lunar calendar, it is believed that the spirits of the ancestors descend to revisit their earthly homes. Spirits are usually feared in Thai culture, but the Por Tor Festival of Phuket is a happy, auspicious occasion.

Food and cakes are offered to placate the hungry spirits, which earns merit and good fortune for the worshippers. The festival is a colourful testament to the Chinese presence in Thailand and the intertwining of the two cultures. This unique occasion offers travellers an inside look at the deep religious and cultural history of the famous island.

The celebrations are centred around the Por Tor Kong Shrine in Bang Neaw, located centrally in Phuket Town. It takes place for about two weeks in August. It is believed that Por Tor Kong (the god of devils, who rules the underground) opens the gates of the spirit world to allow the Spirits to return to the earth during these two weeks. The shrine itself is colourfully and intricately decorated in the style of Chinese temples, and is worth a visit.

During the festival the shrine is bustling with activity as worshippers come from all over the island to bring offerings for their ancestors. Visitors will see mountains of red cakes shaped like turtles being offered at the shrine. The turtle symbolises longevity in Thai culture, while red represents prosperity for the Chinese, so these turtle cakes will give the bearer a long, happy life. Other gifts of food are brought to feed the spirits and are presented with incense sticks and prayers.

While you are at the shrine, you may have the opportunity to watch a likay, a traditional Thai performance. Look for a stage set up near the shrine, or just listen for loud music and singing, and you will be guided to the event. A likay is a traditional form of entertainment, incorporating singing, dancing, music and colourful costumes for an exciting show.

Movies about the Por Tor Festival will also be shown on stage at the event. The Por Tor festival in Phuket is an event not be missed; so, if you find yourself in Phuket this August, be sure to head over to the Por Tor Kong Shrine to take part in all the festivities.
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Orson Johnson writes for Holiday Velvet, a website providing Paris accommodation, France and Venice accommodation Rentals.
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