As I type, local Chinese communities in mainly Thailand, Myanmar and Indonesia are slicing, parading and praying their way towards the final day of the annual 'Vegetarian Festival' also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.
Phuket, Thailand, is the best place to witness the festivities at their most frenetic. About half of the island's inhabitants are Chinese Thai, and these people congregate in the countless temples around the tropical paradise. During the week, people partake in rituals and ceremonies that resemble events from a forgotten age with gruesome mutilation and spiritual possession.
In Thai the festival is called thetsakan kin che (Thai: เทศกาลกินเจ),
As Wikipedia states:
'many religious devotees will perform ritualized mutilation upon themselves and one another while under a trance-like state, including but not limited to: impaling through cheeks, arms, face, legs, back etc., with everything from as small as syringes to as large as is agreed upon between all members; partial skinning (the skin is not removed, just cut and flipped over); slashing of limbs, chest, stomach and especially tongue with swords, axes and knives; bloodletting; removal of tissue (normally limited to cysts) and intentionally wrapping or standing near fire crackers as they are lit.'
According to locals the purpose of the impaling and bloodletting is in veneration of the Chinese gods and ancestors with the majority of this being done by the Masong ม้าทรง
These individuals, it is said, are used as vehicle for the gods/spirits during the week. The Masong behave as if in a trance-like state with rolling eyes and erratic movements. After undergoing piercing by all manner of objects including swords, spikes, banners, petrol pumps, machine guns and anything else you can imagine, they walk the streets with their minders, clad in white, around the streets giving blessings to bystanders. This is quite the spectacle when combined with the rhythmic beats of drums and temple bells.
So, anyway, how does this atavistic freak out relate to investing (I'm having to think hard myself here) Well, in a way it does.
People taking part in the strange ceremonies of the Vegetarian Festival believe their luck will improve as a direct result. Personally, I've always has an issue with luck being the prize of doing this ritual or singing that song.
How can you be so sure?
How many people make investment decisions based on advise from a fortune teller or some other 'expert'?
How many believe it's just bad luck when their investments are unsuccessful?
How many spend hard earned money seeking advice from people claiming to know the unknowable?
As a wise man once said. "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
Is this not the case?
It's important we don't think of investment as a game of luck. Sure, there are elements of luck, but over the long term if we read enough and exercise patience, fortitude and courage we will succeed whether the gods are smiling down on us or not.
Enjoy your day folks.