Less Fanfair and Fewer Participants for Second Vegetarian Festival

 | Tue 28 Oct 2014 20:44 ICT

CityNews – The historic second vegetarian festival of the year is being observed quietly, if at all, by Chiang Mai residents.
The Eka Thip Chokdee restaurant in Thorakamanakom Road. Photo: Weerasak Panyachod.

Thousands participated in the annual event held in late September and early October, with vendors selling vegetarian food and various activities promoting a meat-free diet.

This year, due to the vagaries of the Chinese calendar, a second veggie fest is being held from October 24 to November 1. This only happens once every 180 years, the National News Bureau of Thailand reported.

Muang Mai market, the biggest wholesale vegetable market in Chiang Mai, was quiet at the weekend. Vendor Sao Boonpratham, 46, said the price of vegetables was low and business wasn’t going well because most people weren’t placing much importance on the second round of the festival. Only the usual customers – vegetarians and vegetarian restaurants – were coming to buy vegetables, Sao said.

Muihiang Saebe, owner of the well-known Eka Thip Chokdee vegetarian restaurant in Chiang Mai, also said that the second round of the vegetarian festival was quiet, unlike the first. She pointed out that it had not been widely advertised and there were no public relations activities to grab people’s attention and explain how special it is. However, she hoped that more people would become interested before the festival ends on Saturday.

Lar Wangsopha, 42, owner of the J Ob Oun vegetarian restaurant, agreed. However, vegetarians are lucky as the price of vegetables is quite cheap at the moment, mostly 20 to 30kg a bag, Lar said.

A survey by the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce predicted that the total revenue generated during this second round of the festival would be only 9.978 billion baht. This was a large decline from the 41.989 billion baht generated during the first vegetarian festival, Thai PBS reported.

The vegetarian festival has Taoist origins but has been incorporated into Thai Buddhist practices. It is observed mainly by Thais of Chinese heritage, who eat vegan food for nine days every year.