Vietnam's controversial pig slaughtering festival returns behind closed doors

By Do Manh Cuong   February 22, 2018 | 10:23 am GMT+7

The 800-year-old festival has been criticized as barbaric by many Vietnamese and international organizations.

The traditional yet controversial pig slaughter festival returned to Nem Thuong Village in the northern province of Bac Ninh on Wednesday. The villages most important festival of the year began with a lion dance at the courtyard while the women prepared water to bath the pigs in.

The traditional yet controversial pig slaughtering festival returned to Nem Thuong Village in the northern province of Bac Ninh on Wednesday. The village's most important festival of the year began with a lion dance in a courtyard while the women prepared water to bathe the pigs in.

The villages elders light some incense for the patron god of the village and report to the god about the villages affairs. The over 800-year-old festival is celebrated every year on the sixth day of the first lunar month to commemorate general Doan Thuong, who has been deified as the villages patron god. The general is believed to have killed wild hogs to feed his soldiers while fighting invaders in the area.

The village elders lit incense for the patron god of the village. The over 800-year-old festival is celebrated every year on the sixth day of the first lunar month to commemorate General Doan Thuong, who has been deified as the patron god of the village. The general is believed to have killed wild hogs to feed his soldiers while fighting invaders in the area.

The pig parade ceremony began at 10 a.m. The parade includes lion dancers, villagers carrying offerings, a litter for the general and two wheeled cages carrying the sacrificial pigs.

The pig parade began at 10 a.m. The parade included lion dancers, villagers carrying offerings, a litter for the general and two wheeled cages carrying the sacrificial pigs.

Each pig was carefully selected and assigned to be cared for by a local household since last years Mid-Autumn Festival. Before the parade, villagers bathed and put red cosmetics on both of the pigs.

Each pig was carefully selected and assigned to be cared for by a local household during last year's Mid-Autumn Festival. Before the parade, villagers bathed and dyed the pigs red.

This assigned executioner (center) keeps his blade by his side throughout the parade. The executioner is selected among the villages men based on age, and must have a peaceful family as well as a non-scandalous personal life.

The executioner (center) kept his blade by his side throughout the parade. The executioner was selected based on age, family and personal life.

During the 3-kilometer (2-mile) journey around the village, the pigs were given cookies and water, as well as lucky money from villagers and visitors.

During the 3-kilometer (2-mile) journey around the village, the pigs were given cookies and water, as well as lucky money from villagers and visitors.

Throughout the parade, villagers distribute blessed food offerings and exchanged new year wishes.

Throughout the parade, villagers distributed food offerings and exchanged new year wishes.

Near noon, the signal flag is waved to mark the beginning of the pig slaughter ceremony.

Near noon, the signal flag was waved to mark the beginning of the slaughtering ceremony.

The family of Tran Thi Phuong was assigned to care for this over 100-kilogram (220-pound) pig since it was only 30 kilograms. We consider him a part of our family, and worried for his every meal. Now that we will never see each other again, Im very sad, Phuong said after wiping the pigs face for the last time.

Tran Thi Phuong's family cared for this over 100-kilogram (220-pound) pig since it was only a 30-kilogram piglet. "We consider him a part of our family. Now that we will never see each other again, I'm very sad," Phuong said, after wiping the pig's face for the last time.

Since last year, the pig slaughter ceremony has been moved to an enclosed corner of the courtyard. In earlier years, the pigs were slaughtered in the middle of the courtyard and villagers would soak money in the fresh blood and place it on the altars in their houses to pray for good crops and health. This practice was however changed after being strongly criticized by many Vietnamese and international organizations.

The slaughtering ceremony was moved to an enclosed corner of the courtyard last year. Before, the pigs were slaughtered in the middle of the courtyard and villagers would soak money in the fresh blood and place it on the altars in their houses to pray for good crops and health. This practice was changed after being strongly criticized by many Vietnamese and international organizations.

Police and the festivals organizers set up a metal barrier to prevent visitors from entering the courtyard during the ceremony.

Police and the festival's organizers set up a metal barrier to prevent visitors from entering the courtyard during the ceremony.

After the ceremony, the two executioners held their bloodstained swords up high while surrounded by police officers to prevent people from trying to soak their money with the blood.

After the ceremony, the two executioners held their bloodstained swords up high while surrounded by police officers to prevent people from trying to soak their money in the blood.

 
 
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