Incredible Ink: Thailand's Magic Tattoo Festival

Each year in spring, thousands of faithful believers arrive to get inked by their spiritual teachers at the Magic Tattoo Festival in Wat Bang Phra in Nakhon Prathom province, about 80 km (50 miles) from Bangkok. This is unlike getting an ordinary tattoo. These tattoos, applied by monks and religious leaders, are believed to make dreams come true and fulfill the destinies of the devout who undergo the ordeal of getting themselves inked. People wait in long queues outside booths to get inked by the temple's master tattooist after which they are sprayed with holy water and go into a trance in which they mimic the creatures engraved on their bodies. They believe the magic tattoos have mystical powers which ward off bad luck and protect them from harm.  

Photos: REUTERS

�A Buddhist monk uses a traditional needle to tattoo the body of a man at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
A Buddhist monk uses a traditional needle to tattoo the body of a man at Wat Bang Phra.
�Devotees in a state of trance mimic the creatures which are tattooed on their bodies during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra in Nakhon Prathom province, about 80 km (50 miles) from Bangkok. Thousands of believers from across Thailand travel to the monastery to attend the annual tattoo festival to have their bodies adorned with tattoos and to pay their respects to the temple's master tattooist. They believe the tattoos have mystical powers which ward off bad luck and protect them from harm.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
Devotees in a state of trance mimic the creatures which are tattooed on their bodies during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra in Nakhon Prathom province, about 80 km (50 miles) from Bangkok. Thousands of believers from across Thailand travel to the monastery to attend the annual tattoo festival to have their bodies adorned with tattoos and to pay their respects to the temple's master tattooist. They believe the tattoos have mystical powers which ward off bad luck and protect them from harm.
�”A Buddhist monk uses a traditional needle to tattoo the chest of Salut at Wat Bang Phra in Nakhon Pathom province. Salut, a 26 year old from Bangkok's Klong Thoey slum who had his first tattoo at age of 17, believes tattoos protect him from danger and give him self confidence. Believers from across Thailand travel to the monastery to have their bodies adorned with tattoos and to pay their respects to the temple's master tattooist. They believe the tattoos have mystical powers, ward off bad luck and protect them from harm.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
”A Buddhist monk uses a traditional needle to tattoo the chest of Salut at Wat Bang Phra in Nakhon Pathom province. Salut, a 26 year old from Bangkok's Klong Thoey slum who had his first tattoo at age of 17, believes tattoos protect him from danger and give him self confidence. Believers from across Thailand travel to the monastery to have their bodies adorned with tattoos and to pay their respects to the temple's master tattooist. They believe the tattoos have mystical powers, ward off bad luck and protect them from harm.
�A Buddhist monk performs a ceremony at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
A Buddhist monk performs a ceremony at Wat Bang Phra.
�A Buddhist monk uses a traditional needle to tattoo the body of a man at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
A Buddhist monk uses a traditional needle to tattoo the body of a man at Wat Bang Phra.
�Tattoo needles and food are displayed at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
Tattoo needles and food are displayed at Wat Bang Phra.
�A girl gets a tattoo as a Buddhist monk performs a ceremony with others at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
A girl gets a tattoo as a Buddhist monk performs a ceremony with others at Wat Bang Phra.
�A Buddhist monk uses a traditional needle to tattoo the body of a man as others wait for their turn at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
A Buddhist monk uses a traditional needle to tattoo the body of a man as others wait for their turn at Wat Bang Phra.
�A Buddhist monk uses a traditional needle to tattoo the chest of Salut, a 26 year old from Bangkok's Klong Thoey slum who had his first tattoo at age of 17.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
A Buddhist monk uses a traditional needle to tattoo the chest of Salut, a 26 year old from Bangkok's Klong Thoey slum who had his first tattoo at age of 17.
�ˆA Buddhist monk cleans the chest of Salut after adding another tattoo on his body at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
ˆA Buddhist monk cleans the chest of Salut after adding another tattoo on his body at Wat Bang Phra.
��A devotee with a tiger tattoo attends the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
A devotee with a tiger tattoo attends the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.
��Devotees wait to be sprayed with holy water during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
Devotees wait to be sprayed with holy water during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.
�Devotees reach for food and flowers given by Buddhist monks during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
Devotees reach for food and flowers given by Buddhist monks during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival.
�A devotee in a state of trance is calmed by volunteers during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
A devotee in a state of trance is calmed by volunteers during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival.
�A devotee in a state of trance mimics a creature tattooed on his body during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
A devotee in a state of trance mimics a creature tattooed on his body during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.
�Devotees in a state of trance mimic the creatures which are tattooed on their bodies during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra in Nakhon Prathom province, about 80 km (50 miles) from Bangkok.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
Devotees in a state of trance mimic the creatures which are tattooed on their bodies during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra in Nakhon Prathom province, about 80 km (50 miles) from Bangkok.
��Devotees wait to be sprayed with holy water during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
Devotees wait to be sprayed with holy water during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.
�A devotee in a state of trance mimics a creature tattooed on his body during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
A devotee in a state of trance mimics a creature tattooed on his body during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.
�A devotee in a state of trance is calmed by volunteers during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
A devotee in a state of trance is calmed by volunteers during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.
�Devotees reach for food and flowers given by Buddhist monks during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.
Travel Thailand Magic Tattoo Festival
Devotees reach for food and flowers given by Buddhist monks during the annual Magic Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra.

What to Read Next