If Scrooge and the Grinch were to collaborate on a festival the ‘Kin Jay’ Chinese Vegetarian Festival would be it. Scrooge endorsing a vegetarian theme and the Grinch deciding it should last 10 days. Complete lunacy. Whoever thought up this meat free celebration must have been in a right sour ol’ mood. While I don’t actually have a problem with vegetarians in general I do have a problem when my favourite Khao Soi Curry stand is taken over. I do mind when I arrive from a 40 Baht taxi ride to be forced to eat.. I have no idea what I was eating. It certainly wasn’t that tasty tender chicken I love.
For those in Bangkok new to the Vegetarian Festival it is known locally in Thailand as ‘Kin Jay’ which translates to English as ‘Eat Vegetarian Food’. Elsewhere better known as ‘the Nine Emperor Gods Festival’ which originates from Chinese Taoist folklore. Funny thing is the same ‘Vegetarian Festival’ theme isn’t celebrated in China. In fact China would be a good place to escape it as only us in Southeast Asia have to endure it. Phuket Thailand with the more dedicated of devotees who stab their faces with knives which in honestly, following 10 days of vegetarian food, maybe tempting. Each year as I try to forget the Vegetarian Festival exists I always fail to see it coming. Until the warning signs, warning signs of yellow a colour I now dread. Yellow banners, yellow flags, yellow nightmares. And mooncakes… beware of the mooncakes.
Really? So if we look past the dread of the Vegetarianism there is much more to this Chinese festival. In Bangkok events take place throughout the city in celebration of Chinese culture. Not so different to Chinese New Year only with less extravagance. Bangkok’s Chinatown area is the obvious place to find these celebrations and this year I was even fortunate enough to stumble on one when in nearby Little India area of Phahurat. Stumbling onto a passing parade en route to a local Chinese temple. Dragons, monsters, revellers in traditional Chinese dress. An intimate parade showcasing beliefs and traditions of a small local temple. The children of the parade handing out lucky coins and me being nifty getting my hands on one. At this moment I feel a little bad. This isn’t a scrooge festival. I’m sorry Kin Jay you really are a beautiful festival after all.