October festivals (part 1)
Just because autumn is upon us doesn’t mean that people start to wind down their festivities and celebrations, quite far from it, as long as people are breathing, regardless of where or when, they’ll find something to celebrate, preferably with lots of booze and food added to it, so here’s a look at some major October festivals.
Interesting how we start with a rather warm destination for an October festival. Taking place in the ‘old city’ of Ghadames, this three-day celebration takes place at the end of the date harvest.
The residents of the modern town head for the old quarter that has been officially uninhabited since the mid-1980s, to bring it to life with singing, dancing and all around public revelry.
The festival is well known to be a time in which weddings are held and ceremonies to celebrate the rite of passage of young men into adulthood are held.
The celebrations take one from the modern town, to the old quarter and then out to the desert, it’s a great way of experiencing ancient local celebrations in their traditional environment.
Vegetarian Festival – Jui Tui temple, Phuket Town, Thailand
The first nine days of the ninth month in the Chinese calendar – which translate to late September/early October – are the days in which the local Chinese community marks the beginning of the equivalent of ‘Taoist Lent’.
During this month the devout followerd of Tao will refrain from eating all mean and meat products, and for some odd reason the festival is marked by incredible acts of self-mortification, such as walking on hot coals, climbing knife-blade ladders and piercing the skin with sharp objects.
This celebration is not for the faint of heart mind you, the self-mortifying can be quite scary, but everyone’s in a trance when doing it, so they don’t really feel the pain per se, probably just the consequences later.
The interesting thing about this festival is that self-mortification has never been associated with Taois Lent in China, instead it is though that the Phuket Taois Chinese community was influenced by a similar festival celebrated in nearby Malaysia.