The Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry of Vietnam has spoken out against the pig slaughter festival and other cruel traditions like it.
The festival has been celebrated for hundreds of years in Nem Thuong on the 6th day of the first lunar month to commemorate a general of war who killed the wild hogs of the area to feed the troops that were fighting invaders over a thousand years ago.
The festival consists of parading a couple of pigs around the village where the troops took refuge, then cutting their necks, wetting money on their blood and putting them on altars for people to pray for food and health.
Even though the Ministry will not take measures to stop the festival, a spokesperson for the Ministry has now said that they do not support or encourage any violent celebrations such as the pig slaughter festival in Nem Thuong or the bullfighting festival in Hai Phong.
“Living in this civilized world, we should discourage acts that are violent and barbaric,” said spokesperson Phan Dinh Tan.
“Do not make the reason of maintaining community traditions. Can the community of a village be compared with the remaining large community? Seeing the reaction of the public through the press, I find a majority of readers oppose the pig-chopping festival. Some people and researchers who support keeping the ritual are conservative thinkers,” said Tan.
Tan mentioned that bullfighting has been banned in many countries and cities despite its traditional value because it no longer fits a civilised society, so the pig slaughter festival should also be considered for a ban.
“We have many ways to entertain and we should choose the ways of humanity. Both the winning and losing buffalos are slaughtered. If we understand that each plant and each animal has its own life, why do we treat animals with such cruelty,” Tan said.
“There are cultural standards we should learn from.”
Animals Asia launched a petition asking the Vietnamese authorities to end the festival saying that ‘the barbaric animal cruelty is in stark contrast and ultimately incompatible with a vibrant, modern and economically successful country like Vietnam.” Click here to sign it.
The petition explains: “In the morning the terrified animals are bound in tiny cages and paraded around the village with a stress-inducing accompaniment of horns and drums.
“When they’ve reached their destination, ropes tie the pigs’ hoofs to a ceremonial cart holding the animals prone on their backs while their heads hang over the edge.
“A frenzied climax ends with the terrified animals having their throats cut and their heads hacked off in front of the crowd.”
But the villagers of Nem Thuong have taken offence of the accusations and are fighting back and defending their centuries-old tradition. Over 100 village elders organized a meeting and refused to change the festival in any way.
“We all wish to observe the festival with all the original rituals, especially the killing of the pigs at the front yard of the main temple,” said the head of the village Nguyen Dinh Loi.
“We don’t want to move the killing to the back of the temple.”
Animal welfare activists will continue to try to convince villagers to choose a more humane path and hope the festival will be cancelled by next year thanks to local and international efforts.