'Traditional' ritual scrapped in northern Vietnam

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A traditional ritual in the northern province of Nam Dinh will stop distributing fabrics stamped with a royal seal following criticisms about chaos caused by people rushing to get one.


The provincial People's Committee made the announcement after a recent meeting with Hoang Tuan Anh, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism.


According to Anh, no history records say that the Khai An Den Tran (Seal Opening) ritual dating back to the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400) includes the custom of distributing the fabric stamped with Tran King's seal.


The ritual was originally held to mark the court's first official working day after a long New Year holiday. But, thousands of people from all over the country began attending the annual ritual with the hope to getting the fabric seal, believing it will bring them good luck.  


In a report to the minister, provincial authorities said that the event, which was first held in Loc Vuong Ward, has attracted increasingly bigger participation since 2000, prompting them to ask the Nam Dinh Town administration to take charge of organizing it


However, because the town's supervisory force was short-handed, local families were running services like providing parking space on their own, charging unreasonable fees.


Worse still, the seal distribution site was also not large enough to accommodate the high demand, so people jostled and fought for the fabric, causing chaos.


Anh ordered the local authorities to cooperate with the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism as well as the Institute of Cultural and Arts Studies to make plans to organize the ritual in an orderly manner.

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