Por Tor Festival

The Por Tor or Hungry Ghost festival is a very unique and unusual local event, in which the local Hokkien Chinese residents believe the ghosts of their ancestors are released for a month by the goddess Gwan Yin, so they can return to visit their old homes. Of course, a hungry ghost could be an angry one and so the locals "make merit" by offering all sorts of delicious food to the ghosts, and pray at temples to give thanks and as a mark of respect. The date changes each year but it normally falls in August or September. The celebrations are centred on the Por Tor Kong shrine in Phuket Town which is close to the Bang Neow shrine, just south of the old part of town.

During the festival, various foods such as steamed pork, duck and chicken, yellow noodles (which represent longevity) and fruit are offered to appease the hungry spirits. The most common items offered are the red turtle cakes called Ang Ku, which also represent longevity and are usually made of sticky rice coated with a red topping, which is then decorated with flowers and various messages. They come in many sizes and the largest can cost up to several thousand baht. The well known local bakery Geng Tin makes some of the finest examples. Residents then take the turtle cakes to the shrine which is filled with hundreds of candles and burning incense. The gifts they take are offered to the spirits and they also burn paper money in a furnace to appease their ancestors.

Besides all this merit-making, the Thais and Chinese never miss an opportunity to setup stalls in the streets selling clothes, toys, and various games such as darts. Even though it's supposed to be unlucky for children to be outside after 6pm during the festival, these days nobody seems to take much notice of that tradition.

Location: Phuket