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Vietnamese government determined to tone down blood-thirsty festivals

By VnExpress   January 11, 2017 | 11:40 am GMT+7
Vietnamese government determined to tone down blood-thirsty festivals
A participant hacked a pig with a sword during a festival at the Nem Thuong village in Bac Ninh, about 40 km north of Hanoi Vietnam. Photo by Reuters

Animals are ritually sacrificed at traditional festivals to bring what is considered good luck for the New Year.

The Vietnamese government has taken a firm stance against festivals known for their violence and superstitions, including a pig slaughtering ritual that was described by Animals Asia as a “display of barbaric animal cruelty”.

Vietnamese people are getting ready to ring in the Year of the Rooster on January 28. During the Lunar New Year celebrations, people employ various practices hoping for a prosperous new year. One of them is going to traditional festivals in the belief that they will bring them luck in the New Year.

And culture authorities are determined to make the festive mood during the Lunar New Year a great chance to draw both local and foreign tourists, said Nguyen Ngoc Thien, the minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Vietnamese traditional festivals feature live music, outdoor games and sometimes ritual animal sacrifices.

The pig slaughtering festival in Bac Ninh Province, about 40 kilometers north of Hanoi, has drawn international criticism and been strongly condemned by local people, with some even calling on the government to ban the festival.

One part of the festival is not for the faint-hearted. A pig is tied by all four legs and forced onto its back. A man then uses a machete to cut the screaming animal in half. Then thousands of festival-goers push forward to smear blood from the pig on their banknotes in the belief that it will bring them good luck and fortune in the new year.

Trinh Thi Thuy, head of a Ministry of Culture department that supervises local festivals, said it has asked local villages to stop organizing such festivals that are offensive to the public.

She also pointed out that some local authorities, despite the government’s disapproval, have still managed to turn traditional buffalo fighting festivals into gambling rackets.

“We’ve asked Hai Phong to prevent its buffalo fighting festival from becoming commercialized,” said Thuy.

Le Van Quang, deputy head of the culture department in the southern province of Binh Phuoc, said local villagers want to keep up the traditions of their ancestors.

He asked the ministry to allow local villagers to retain their traditional festivals providing they are not offensive to the general public or against the law.

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