NAM DINH — Authorities in the northern province of Nam Dinh announced plans to improve public order at Tran Temple, where a scrabble for papers stamped with the holy royal seal led to a stampede last year.
|Peace and goodwill: Local elders pray at a ceremony at the Tran Temple on the 14th night of the first lunar month last year. This year authorities hope to improve public order at the site, where a scrabble for papers stamped with the holy royal seal led to a stampede last time. — VNA/VNS Photo The Duyet
This year authorities hope to avoid any of the chaos that has marred distribution of the stamps, which are thought to be lucky, in a custom that dates back to the 13th century.
This year the stamps will be distributed at the temple from 7am on the 15th day of the first lunar month (which falls on February 6 this year) till the end of the lunar month.
The symbolic stamps are printed on paper instead of cloth as in previous years to cut costs and make the tradition more environmentally friendly, said Cao Thi Tinh, deputy chairperson of the provincial People's Committee.
Local elders would be responsible for the distribution of the stamps and each person should not receive more than two stamped papers, she added.
A ceremonial procession will be held on the 14th night of the first lunar month to take the stamps from Co Trach Temple to Thien Truong Temple. Temples and pagodas will be open to public, and many are expected to visit to wish for good fortune in the new year.
Local authorities will prevent illegal gambling at the site during the festive period.
Luong Hong Quang, deputy director of the Viet Nam Culture and Arts Institute, said the advantage of the plan for this year is that it would avoid the chaos of thousands of people visiting the temple on one night to grab stamps as in previous years.
Quang said the institute's research found the stamps were part of a local tradition that dated back to the Tran dynasty (1225-1400), but while today's worshippers pray for personal fortunes, villagers in the past took part in the ceremony to pray for peace.
He suggested concerned agencies and media should help introduce the real spiritual value of the stamps to the public so that people would not risk the lives of others in a rush to get their hands on the stamps.
In previous years, the stamp distribution ceremony is held only on the 14th night of the first lunar month, resulting in crowd control problems and chaos that has seen several people injured. — VNS