Pandemic prompts cancelation of major Lunar New Year festival

By Viet Tuan   January 26, 2021 | 09:00 pm GMT+7
Pandemic prompts cancelation of major Lunar New Year festival
A crowd is seen at the Tran Temple Festival during the 2019 Lunar New Year. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
One of the biggest festivals in the first lunar month for northern Vietnamese will be canceled to prevent possible spread of Covid-19.

The annual Tran Temple Festival will not be held in Nam Dinh Province this year, local authorities have decided.

Normally, the festival will take place from the 11th to the 16th day of the first lunar month, following the celebration of Lunar New Year, to occur in mid-February.

Both ritual and festival activities will not be held at the temple in the province’s Nam Dinh Town, said Pham Thi Oanh, its deputy chairwoman.

"The temple will not be open to visitors. On the most important day of the event, only a few senior citizens would be allowed to commemorate the Tran kings," she said.

Oanh continued by saying the province first considered simply limiting the number of visitors but found "it would be difficult to control" since the occasion normally drew tens of thousands of people.

The temple precinct is not big enough, spread across only eight hectares in total. It would be hard to impose social distancing in case large crowds turn up, she explained.

The festival is held annually to commemorate Kings of the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400) and Tran Hung Dao, or Tran Quoc Tuan, a royal prince, statesman and military commander who helped Vietnam, then Dai Viet, repel two out of three major Mongol invasions in the late 13th century.

The seal opening ceremony, the main ritual of the festival, takes place on the 14th night of the first lunar month, with additional events including singing, lion and dragon dancing, and martial arts performances.

People flock to the ceremony to pray for good fortune and happiness for the new lunar year.

The temple will still open as normal before and after the festival but visitors will have to follow all protocols for preventing Covid-19, including ensuring social distancing, wearing masks and having their hands disinfected.

Vietnam has gone over 50 days without recording any single cases of Covid-19 caused by community transmissions.

The nation has so far reported 1,551 infections, with more than half imported.

 
 
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