The Vietnamese government has called for local authorities to stop organizing festivals that could fuel superstition and violence, following a strong backlash against some rowdy festive activities.
Nguyen Van Nen, a spokesperson for the government, said at a press conference Monday that festivals in Vietnam are losing their charm and quality.
He pointed to the “common” violence at thousands of spiritual celebrations held across Vietnam following the Lunar New Year festival.
Violence broke out at the Saint Giong Festival in Hanoi late last month as dozens of visitors attacked paraders and one another after some tried to snatch sacred offerings.
Nen said while the event has been highlighted in local media as a bad example, it is unfortunately only one of many festivals plagued with chaos.
At some festivals, sacred offerings are even put up for sale.
Nen said Vietnam should only preserve festivals with good traditions and practices, and get rid of “negative and superstitious customs.”
“Anything that is no longer appropriate, any values that are no longer necessary and images that no longer look nice should be abandoned,” he said.
Pig slaughter fest
Commenting on the recent pig slaughter festival in Bac Ninh Province in northern Vietnam, which has been met with strong opposition from animal rights activists, Nen said there would be "adjustments" although he did not elaborate.
Nem Thuong Village in the province organizes the festival, on 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 this soldiers, hence the tradition.
The villagers parade two pigs around the village before cutting their necks for blood or chopping them in half.
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.
The Animals Asia Foundation has called the festival “brutal” and asked Vietnam government to end it.
Nen said the government will have to respect the village’s opinion over its own festival, but officials will also have to consider if the practice is humane and in accordance with modern standards and values.
“We will consult with the community, social researchers and government agencies to give further instructions.”