Vietnam moves to rein in rowdy, extravagant Lunar New Year celebration

Thanh Nien News

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People attend the Huong Pagoda Festival in Hanoi, one of the main country's festive events in spring. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre

Vietnam's government has ordered cities and provinces to cut back on their spending for festivals, which are expected to swamp the first few months of the Lunar New Year. 
The festivals, when organized, must be economical and in line with traditions, local media quoted Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as saying. 
He also said budget spending on these festivals must be reduced as much as possible. Festival organizers are no longer allowed to call for sponsorship on live television without seeking permission in advance. 
State officials and employees are also banned from taking part in the festivals as well as using state-owned vehicles to attend the events during working hours, he said. 
Official statistics showed that every year more than 7,300 festivals take place around Vietnam, with most happening during spring after Tet.
As Vietnam is an agricultural country, most of the festivals originated in rural villages and are held to pray for good weather and good harvests, and to pay homage to people who are community benefactors in various ways.
Therefore, most of the festivals are limited to a village or a group of adjacent villages sharing the same customs.
However, for many years, the festivals have been criticized for being organized in a messy, and, sometimes, offensive way.

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