Phuket Chinese Temple
Chinese Temples in Phuket
Just off the corner of Soi Phuthon and Thanon Ranong near the former bus terminal in Phuket Town stands the 200 year-old temple of Put Jaw. Being the oldest Chinese Taoist temple in the whole of Phuket, it also stands as being one of the most spectacular. The temple was built and dedicated to the Kwum Im, the Goddess of Mercy.
Before the world saw Phuket as the ultimate beach destination, its main economy was tin mining. The mining industry brought many Chinese laborers to Phuket starting in the 17th century, and their influence can still be felt today in the many colorful (red) Chinese shrines sprinkled throughout the island.
The temple, or Wat as it is known, show the deft, intricate detailing of Buddhist temples, with gold leaf aplenty. You can also see the Taoist influences in the Chinese lanterns and brightly colored wall-banners with ancient dragon motifs. While the surroundings give you an out-of-this-world experience, the undisturbed serenity and tranquil feeling that exudes from the resident monks is truly enlightening.
Jui Tui, a large annex to the temple also is a fantastic display of workmanship, although it was built a full century after Put Jaw. It is still visually sensational. Dedicated to Kiu Wong In, the Vegetarian God, it stands as the birthplace of the October Vegetarian Festival where devout Buddhists observe a 9 day ritual in order for good fortune to be bestowed upon them.
Vegetarian Festival and Extreme Devotion
Don’t be fooled... the “Vegetarian Festival” is one of the noisiest and (potentially) most jaw-dropping of any festival in Thailand. While many devotees make merit by going vegan and wearing white for the 10 days of the festival, there are also much more extreme displays. The celebrations happen each day at a different Chinese shrine in Phuket before gathering at Put Jaw and the island is filled with parades and firecrackers into the night.
Devotees or 'Ma Song' that have been specially chosen go fire-walking over hot coals and climbing up blade-rung ladders in order to be spiritually cleansed by Chinese Gods. The most famous part of the festival is when they pierce their faces and arms with swords, piques, and various other objects.
Fortune Telling at the Temple
Jui Tui also offers visitors the chance to go through the 'door of relief' – beyond which is the altar. For those who have a question requiring a yes or no answer, you throw two mango-shaped wooden pieces into the air and if they both land the same side up, the answer is 'no'. If they land on different sides, the answer is 'yes'.
For a more involved question, you might want to try the fortune sticks. For this, you take a cup filled with chopstick-sized sticks and concentrate on your dilemma whilst shaking the cup until a single stick comes out. The number on the stick corresponds to a fortune kept in the nearby cabinet.
Location and Information
Put Jaw Chinese Temple, Soi Phuthorn, Ranong Road, Phuket Town, Thailand.
Opening Hours: 06:30 – 20:00
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