Kathu Shrine has shared a long history with Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival and is known as the original home of the festival. Rumor has it that a Chinese opera from mainland China came to town and without any particular reasons, members of this group started to fall ill. After a while they realised that they had forgotten to carry on with their important traditional vegetarian diet.
Finally, they held a vegetarian diet ceremony at their temporary opera house at Kathu and within no time all the sickness and problems amazingly disappeared. Locals couldn’t believe their eyes when witnessing what had happened. They too participated in the ceremony and have been carrying it on until today. This is the roots of the great annual Vegetarian Festival that Phuket is known for.
Highlights and Features
The original Kathu shrine was very small and not at all grand. Over the years, a lot of work and effort was expanded to renovate its condition and nowadays this shrine is considered by many islanders as the most holy of all in Phuket. Traditional materials and techniques were used and the restoration was done following traditional Chinese architecture as visitors can see, starting from its main entrance.
The shrine also houses some impressive and historical items including wooden crafted Taoist deities in lively poses and a variety of vintage implements once used for body piercing by spirit medium (aka ‘mah song’ in Thai) during the festival many years back.
Good to Know and What not to Miss
Guests are welcome to visit the shrine as long as they don’t disturb a private hall, home of a deity that is named as the ‘chairman’ of the festival. It’s a small chamber that has beautiful decorative yellow curtains drawn at all times and with a big sign (in Chinese) above its entrance. You’ll know when you see it. Not even the Kathu villagers know what it looks like inside as only a few chosen people are allowed to enter, so don’t feel bad about it!
- Opening Hours: Daily
- Location: In Kathu Village, it’s about two km from the Kathu- Patong junction on Samkong-Kathu Road once you turn right