A pig on its way to the killing ritual of a past slaughter festival in Bac Ninh Province. Photo: Cam Giang
Months after fighting criticism from cultural officials and animal rights groups, villagers in the northern province of Bac Ninh have finally agreed to change how they will celebrate a centuries-old pig slaughter festival.
The main slaughtering ritual will stay, but Nem Thuong Village now says the killings will take place in a "private" and "discreet" area.
Local media reported that the villagers also promise to stop wetting money with fresh blood, a tradition that many claim can bring them good luck.
Bac Ninh's culture officials said the village decided to make adjustments to bring the festival in line with social developments.
The festival is celebrated every sixth day of the first lunar month 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 of slaughtering pigs.
Traditionally, 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.
The festival faced criticism and opposition early this year.
A few weeks before the event was organized on February 24, the Hong Kong-based Animals Asia Foundation launched a petition asking the public to reject the festival that it deemed “extremely cruel." It also called on Vietnam's government to ban it.
In response to the foundation's call, Bac Ninh's authorities then asked Nem Thuong villagers to make a few changes such as its name from "Pig Slaughter" to "Pig Parade" and move the killing ritual to the back of their communal house, making it less blatant.
However, Nem Thuong proceeded with the festival's rituals as usual, saying that "no one has the right to stop it."