Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Many people organise buffalo fighting festivals to gamble illegally, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Trịnh Thị Thuỷ reported at a conference held yesterday in Hà Nội.
The conference was held to review the operation of festivals nationwide in the first quarter of the year—the most popular time for festivals, as the coming of spring is celebrated—and set up plans to organise festivals which will be held in the rest of the year.
Thuỷ said the ministry gave permission to organise the buffalo fighting festival in Đồ Sơn, Hải Phòng City only because it was recognised as the national intangible heritage. Other such festivals are organised without permission and will be eliminated.
“The Ministry and departments of culture at localities will ban festival practices which are violent and cause chaos,” she said. “The Đồ Sơn buffalo fighting festival will lose its status if cases of gambling are reported.”
“Currently the festival is opened for free for the public and the number of buffaloes has been decreased to restrain the amount of violence,” she said.
Vice director of the Hà Nội Department of Culture and Sports Trương Minh Tiến reported that the management of festivals is controlled tightly and strictly.
“Hà Nội is a locality with the largest number of festivals in the whole country; that’s the reason why managing festivals here is complicated and difficult,” he said.
“There are 1,200 festivals organised annually. There are many festivals that last a number of days and attract a huge number of visitors. Hương Pagoda Festival in Mỹ Đức District is a prime example with 1.3 million of pilgrims flocking to the festival this year.”
“However, I realise that the local authorities this year fulfiled their tasks and the bahaviour of festival goers has been raised,” he said.
Tiến pointed out that people still waste money in buying and burning too much vàng mã (joss paper or ghost money) at religious festivals held at temples and pagodas.
“Festivals should be organised at the lowest cost possible, and aim to develop the country’s fine cultural tradition and educate younger generations about the customs,” he added.
Last year Hải Phòng City People’s Committee suspended Đồ Sơn Buffalo Fighting Festival when a local man was gored to death by his fighting buffalo. Since then, the ministry tightened the management and organisation of such festivals.
The buffalo fighting festival is a traditional festival that is attached to a Water God worshipping ceremony and the custom of “sacrifice”. The most typical reason for the ceremony is to express the martial spirit of the local people. — VNS