Although its origins are not very clear, it may have been brought to Phuket by a Chinese opera troupe which was struck by a mysterious plague, as a result, they thought, of disrespect to nine Emperor Gods. They decided to build Chinese temples and follow a strict vegetarian diet to cleanse the body and mind and get rid of the Evil Eye. Once recovered, they celebrated this "miracle" by organizing a festival to thank the gods. Since 1825, the Chinese community in Phuket, which represents 35% of the inhabitants of the island, organizes the annual Vegetarian Festival during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar (late September - early October). For nine days, participants must meet certain obligations: cleanliness of the body, wearing white clothes, good physical and mental health, no alcohol or meat, abstinence for the duration of the festival, and mourners or pregnant women having their period cannot attend the ceremonies. The "Mah Song" (literally translated to the "brave horses"), and the "seers" in which the Gods live during the festival period, have supernatural powers and maim themselves order to absorb all the surrounding evil to ensure happiness and luck for the whole community. Men and women "chosen" by the Gods, dressed in colorful garments adorned with Taoist symbols gather in the Chinese temples, fall into a trance, and mutilate their bodies before they march in the streets and stop in front of houses where their offerings are made to drive away evil spirits. Each year this one of a kind festival brings together thousands of people as they attend the celebration and bloody procession of the"Mah Song."