In unprecedented move, Vietnam names and shames 'offensive' festivals

By Quynh Trang   February 16, 2017 | 04:33 am PT
In unprecedented move, Vietnam names and shames 'offensive' festivals
Thousands of people fight for pieces of good luck charms at a festival in Hanoi in February. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Many spring festivals descend into chaotic scenes as people battle for position and good luck.

The Vietnamese government has officially joined in a debate on ugly spring festivals that has caught public and media attention in recent weeks.

The culture ministry has for the first time issued a statement listing “offensive” festivals that involve fighting and scrambling for lucky charms.

The list includes festivals at Soc Temple and the Perfume Pagoda in Hanoi, as well as a festival in Hien Quan Commune in the nearby province of Phu Tho.

Bull fighting festivals in the northern provinces of Tuyen Quang and Yen Bai also made the list for commercializing the country's traditions.

In addition, the distribution of lucky tokens at temples in Quang Ninh and Nghe An was dismissed as a misrepresentation of Vietnamese history and culture.

The ministry ordered local authorities to take control of future festivals and keep them in order.

The list follows a request made by the government office on Tuesday for the culture minister to take a stand on the festival ruckus.

Minister Nguyen Ngoc Thien said he would address the matter further during a press briefing next week.

Vietnamese people celebrate thousands of festivals every year, mostly during spring and the first lunar month.

Centuries-old rituals to commemorate ancient war heroes, show respect to the gods and to pray for good health, peace and prosperity are still followed today - all honorable causes.

But how people celebrate and perform the rituals is another question that has sparked a debate about whether the traditions are too violent and chaotic.

Related news:

Vietnam praised for less gory version of centuries-old pig slaughter fest

Vietnam bans animal slaughter at violent spring festivals

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