The Chinese Vegatarian Festival in Bangkok’s Chinatown : A Space for Presenting Cultural Identity of Chineseness in Contemporary Thai Society

Narut Kupthanaroj




In the present day context of Bangkok’s Chinatown, the Chinese vegetarian festival is a space where Chinese cultural identities are constructed and presented by several parties. This article aims to identify who are the festivals organizers and also to identify the diversity of Chinese cultural identities presented in this festival. 


Primary field data reveals that there are two main parties involved in organizing the festivals: first, government organizations and second, the people from the Chinatown communities. The festivals held by the government organizations, arranged by the Samphanthawong district office, the Samphanthawong district cultural council and a private organizer, take place around Chinatown Gate. The identities of Chinatown in the Chinese Vegetarian Festival are presented as the place of numerous sacred religious places: the legacy of faith for the vegetarian festival, the place for Chinese Thai people who have been living under royal benevolence, and the resource for the great taste of food. The objectives of the event are to promote tourism, to conserve Chinese culture, to build up reputation for local politicians and local businessman, and to increase the profit and market share for the sponsor’s products.


On the other hand, the festival held by the Chinatown communities, which significantly present Chinese Thai’s identities, is the vegetarian festival at Chow Sue Kong Shrine, Talad Noi area. What makes this event different from the others is that they have an outside organization, Arsomsilpa Institute, to help arranged the event. The important identities presented in this festival are local history, Chinese Thai and Yaowarat lifestyle, and the delight of Chinese vegetarian festival in the Talad Noi area. The festival’s purposes are to form and present Talad Noi’s identities to the public, to save the site from overdevelopment, and to encourage the local people to value their community.


(Published in Rian Thai: International Journal of Thai Studies, Volume 8/2015, Page 147-172)


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