Northern Vietnam village refuses to compromise, launches pig slaughter fest

By Cam Giang, Thanh Nien News

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 A pig on its way to the killing ritual of a past slaughter festival in Bac Ninh Province.

A centuries-old pig slaughter festival took place in its traditional form in Bac Ninh Province on Tuesday, despite strong clamor from international animal activists and the public elsewhere. 
Nguyen Dinh Loi, an organizer of the festival at Nem Thuong Village, told the press on Monday that the slaughter ceremony would be held exactly as it had been in previous years.
Nothing would be changed, he said. 
The festival, meant to commemorate a hero and pray for good crops and health, is open to everybody, including children.
Speaking to Thanh Nien, Nguyen My Hoan, an official with Bac Ninh’s culture department, said activists have raised their voice about the festival, but at the end of the day it's not their decision to make. 
“Animals Asia called for a stop, but a suggestion is simply just a suggestion. This festival belongs to the people, and no one has the right to stop it.”
Nem Thuong villagers would organize their festival safely, orderly, and legally, he said.
In an interview with Thanh Nien after the festival, Tran Van Duc, another organizer, said villagers as well as several cultural experts want to keep having the festival in the future.
Last month the Hong Kong-based Animals Asia Foundation launched a petition asking the public to reject the festival that it deemed “extremely cruel.”
The group also called on Vietnam's government to ban it.
In response to the call, a cultural official of Bac Ninh told the press that local authorities had already suggested villagers change the festival’s name from “Pig Slaughter” to “Pig Parade,” and move the killing ritual to the back of the communal house, making it less blatant.
However, early this month, it was announced that Nem Thuong villagers refused to make any change to the festival, as they insisted on carrying it out "in line with tradition".
People in the village celebrate the festival every sixth day of the first lunar month – February 24 this year – to commemorate a general who took refuge in the area while fighting invaders a thousand years ago.
He killed wild hogs to feed his soldiers, hence the tradition.
The villagers parade two pigs around the village before cutting their necks for blood.
They then wet money notes with the fresh blood and put them on the altars in their houses to pray for good crops and health.

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