Following constant chaos during the festival month, Vietnam’s culture minister said his ministry will get rid of festivals and rituals which are culturally offensive and damaging to the national image.
The Lunar New Year Festival, which peaked February 19 this year, preceded a month of thousands of festivals across the country.
But the festive season also had a bad side: noisy crowds started fights, usually over the spiritual offerings that they believe could bring them good luck. Some people even put the offerings on sale.
At the Saint Giong Festival in Hanoi late last month for example, violence broke out as dozens of visitors attacked paraders and one another after some tried to snatch sacred offerings. Many were caned.
Hoang Tuan Anh, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, conceded that many festivals have been distorted and commercialized.
“People have stopped caring about keeping cultural values. They would fight, steal and tramped,” Anh said in an interview with news website VnExpress.
He said the ministry is taking stock of all festivals and will propose what to deal with them.
There are nearly 8,000 spring festivals held across the country.
Anh said Vietnam needs fewer festivals.
Not all traditions are still appropriate. We’ll keep the good ones" -- Culture Minister Hoang Tuan Anh
“Not all traditions are still appropriate. We’ll keep the good ones,” he said.
But Anh assured that the ministry will be "cleaning" festivals carefully, by consulting experts, local authorities, communities and the media.
He said the reform will be challenged since many localities have considered festivals key sources of income.
But if a city or province choose to keep its festivals, it will have to follow a set of standards and be punished if it fails to do so, Anh said.
“We are determined to get rid of those that have no educational value and hurt the national image.”