Harmful Vietnamese festival practices banned

Traditional festivals comprising violent activities and causing chaos are to be stopped or changed, authorities and cultural managers said at a conference in Hanoi on January 10.

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The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism organised the conference to review festivals held over the last year. The conference was joined by representatives from a number of festivals’ organising boards and departments of culture nationwide.

Last year, the ministry banned buffalo-fighting festivals in Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Nghe An and Quang Nam provinces because they involved violence that may have a bad influence on the community, especially children, said Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien.

“We mobilised local people to change the way their festivals are organised if there are actions harmful to the environment, causing disorder and encouraging violence,” he said.

“We are committed to organise festivals which preserve cultural values and fine traditions. Through the festivals, we also promote an image of a beautiful and civilised country and the unique and diversified culture of the ethnic groups.”

“The festivals are organised to meet spiritual and entertainment demands of the people and educate the younger generation to preserve the tradition.”

Le Thi Minh Ly, member of the National Council for Cultural Heritage, agreed that factors that are not suitable to modern society and current lifestyle trends can be changed. However, she stressed that the authorities should respect, share and discuss with the community in the organistion of festivals.

“Due to the war and changes throughout history, the organisation of traditional festivals was interrupted for decades,” she said.

“That’s the reason why some traditional values of the festivals are lost and some new details are added.”

“The authorities should work closely with the cultural researchers and people – owners of the festivals, to organise them in the most suitable way.”

Nguyen Van Anh, vice director of Bac Ninh province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said many traditional festivals in Bac Ninh have been changed following the ministry’s directions. The Dong Ky Village Festival is a prime example.

Thousands of people gather at Dong Ky village to participate in the local firecracker festival in springtime every year. The festival was first held to honour General Thien Cuong who helped the legendary Hung Kings fight against invaders and was later considered the tutelary god of the village. After winning the fight, the general celebrated their victory with two huge firecrackers.

“Ever since the government banned the use of firecrackers, local people have made firecracker models to perform the ritual,” said Anh. “Instead of setting off firecrackers, we carry the giant firecrackers during a procession.” 

Anh also revealed that Dong Ky villagers have donated a giant decorated firecracker, which plays the leading role in the procession, to the National Museum of History. In the future, the firecracker would be displayed at the museum to introduce the skill of the Dong Ky craftsmen and the traditional festival of the local people.

Source VNS