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Spring festivals become a burden on local communities

VietNamNet Bridge - Spring festivals represent the traditional beauty of Vietnam, but instead of bringing good things for the community, they are becoming a burden on local governments and the tourism industry. Why?

VietNamNet Bridge - Spring festivals represent the traditional beauty of Vietnam, but instead of bringing good things for the community, they are becoming a burden on local governments and the tourism industry. Why?



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A fight to steal bamboo flowers at the Giong Festival.



Although the Spring festival season this year has just begun, the media has reported many scandals related to festivals, such as the pig-chopping ritual at the Nem Thuong village festival (Bac Ninh province), the fight for offerings at the Giong Festival (Hanoi) and the Duc But Festival (Vinh Phuc). These incidents have affected the images of the spring festival in Vietnam.

A question has been raised: "Do people participating in festivals really know about the festivals?"

The cause of each case is different, but in general participants were violent instead of peaceful and friendly.

It is estimated that there are more than 8,000 festivals in Vietnam each year and most of them are held in the spring. In addition, there are many newly established festivals.

Prof. Dr. Kieu Thu Hoach, former chief editor of the Folklore Culture Journal, and Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Research Institute of Folklore, told VOV that all festivals come from national tradition and their nature is good, even though the form of some festivals may not fit the modern concept. However, using violence to steal offerings and sacred objects at some recent festivals is an act that must be opposed. This behavior is contrary to the customs of festivals.

Nguyen Su, Party Secretary of Hoi An Town, Quang Nam Province told the Ho Chi Minh City Law Newspaper: "People are turning festivals into commercial events. The traditional festivals are being deformed. They are no longer rituals to pay tribute to the ancestors and the gods but to pray for individual benefits."

Historian Nguyen Nha said in Tuoi Tre Daily that Tet (New Year) is the day to open a new opportunity for individuals, families and communities. On this occasion, people only do good things. "Violence and fighting on the New Year is a taboo, which goes against tradition. It is a problem of society!" Dr. Nha said.

Professor Ngo Duc Thinh, ex-director of the Vietnam Folk Culture Research Institute, said that commercial self-interestedness can be seen on both sides: the organizer and the attendee of festivals.

In the post-Tet festival season, the operators of temples tend to gain as much as they can, which is evident in the increasing presence of bigger donation boxes, he said, adding a single festival at a temple in Thanh Hoa Province could contribute to the local authorities up to VND12 billion after all deductions.

In fact, banknotes of small denominations can be found everywhere at temples, especially those in the country’s north. Some put money into donation boxes but others choose to place it on the statues of religious figures, which Professor Thinh said amounts to an act of bribing.

Therefore, chaos and violence are unavoidable because they are afraid they could lose good luck all year round if they fail to get something at festivals. They are ready to attack others, even those holding the events as seen at the recent Giong festival, for their own interest.

If such so-called cultural festivals are still used as great venues to make commercial gains and merciless people still rely on these events as life’s saviors, the situation will continue to get worse.

Culture ministry acts to protect national image



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Using violence to steal the lucky ball at a festival.



A lot of violence has been spotted at a number of festivals in the northern region following the Lunar New Year holiday, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has stressed an urgent need to deal with it to protect the country’s image.

The ministry’s spokesperson Phan Dinh Tan said there must be penalties imposed on offensive acts such as scrambling and fighting to grasp offerings at festivals.

If there is chaos at festivals, their organizers will have to take responsibility.

Besides, those festivals may be even banned, according to Tan.

“Organizers are responsible for preventing culturally offensive behaviors. We cannot allow them to tarnish the national image,” Tan stressed.

Prior to the festive season in the nation’s north, the ministry issued many documents asking provinces and cities to enhance management of festivals in their localities.

The ministry also requested local leaders to stop any acts of taking advantage of the festivals to violate laws.

Following numerous disorders at certain festivals in the northern region, researchers said many festivals that have just been reinstated have revived rituals and behaviors inappropriate to modern life.

However, according to Tan, festivals being restored to honor cultural values and inappropriate behaviors at some festivals are beyond expectations.

In latest news, at the government press conference on March 2, with the participation of nine ministers, the Chairman of the Government Office, Nguyen Van Nen, said that festivals should be organized based on community spirit, to honor traditionally cultural and humane values of the country. Bad practices that are no longer suitable to civilized society should be removed.

"It is necessary to check, detect and strictly handle the negative behaviors at festivals and tourist spots," he stressed.

Compiled by Thu Mai

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