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Ouch! Thailand’s cheek-piercing vegetarian festival

As burning incense fills the air, devotees in trances force skewers and swords through their cheeks in ritualistic acts underpinning southern Thailand’s colourful — and seemingly painful — vegetarian festival. The Taoist “Nine Emperor Gods” event held on the holiday island of Phuket, began October 9 and coincides with observances of Chinese communities across the region who refrain from meat and other indulgences such as drinking and gambling. GRAPHIC CONTENT: IMAGES OF EXTREME BODY MUTILATION