Virgin-worship culture is alive and well in Thailand. Yesterday, several young virgins competed to represent Guan Yin, or the Goddess of Compassion and mercy, as part of the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations.

A 16-year-old girl has won the traditional annual contest to represent Guan Yin, the Goddess, in the lead up to the next Chinese New Year celebration in Muang municipality.

This virgin contest happened before a large crowd at the Nha Pha God-Goddess Shrine, in the Pak Nam Pho area of Nakhon Sawan, a largely Thai-Chinese province in central Thailand.

The five virgin-finalists competing, who were chosen from a larger group of 20 virgins, had to be of Chinese lineage and between 16 and 20 years old.

Supposedly, the contest is based only on luck and faith, two ideals highly regarded in Chinese culture. However, all the young women were also very traditionally attractive.

The winner, student Tassayaporn Wongsaksirikul, 16, will be worshipped as a representation of the goddess by her entire city over Chinese New Year, from Jan. 21 to Feb. 1.

The Guan Yin virgin contest is one of the Chinese New Year’s annual rites, which have been celebrated for 101 years in this community.

To win the contest, the girls needed to throw two wooden bars at a certain shine three times. For the first two rounds, one bar needs to face up while the other faces down. For the final round, both bars need to face down.

Apparently, this only happens for one girl each time. Believers think that the winner is chosen by Guan Yin herself.

The final contest lasted about one hour before Natcha Sae-Eiaw was declared the winner. The daughter of vendor parents, Ms Natcha is studying at senior high school level at Photisansuksa School in Muang district.

A media conference was later held to announce the 12-day festival to mark the Chinese New Year at Pak Nam Pho, from Jan 29 to Feb 9 next year and will wear a Guan Yin costume and appear in a parade in her city

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