Despite international and local criticism about animal cruelty, the annual Pig Slaughter Ceremony in Bac Ninh Province went ahead on February 24 with participants maintaining they want to keep traditional customs alive.
Residents of Nem Thuong Village have been preparing for the event for the past two days, and two pigs were brought to the village temple on February 23. The pigs was paraded around the village on February 24 morning before they were slaughtered at noon.
The villagers said their ceremony does not violate any laws so they would keep their traditions. This year ceremony was larger, publicity about the event apparently having attracted more visitors than previous years.
The deputy head of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Nguyen Van Anh, said officials from the department and leaders of Bac Ninh City will be present to report on the ceremony.
Bac Ninh has been the focus of international and national attention after the Animals Asia Foundation launched a campaign on January 27 to end the Nem Thuong Festival pig slaughter, which involves the public decapitation of the animals and the dipping of money in the spilled blood for good luck.
"Cutting the animals while they are still alive and healthy is cruel," Animals Asia said in a media release, "Witnessing and carrying out such activities will harden human emotions and feelings. This will especially affect children who are still in psychological development stages."
In response to criticism, Anh's department urged the villagers to change the name of the event to "Pig Procession Ceremony", and to undertake the slaughter away from the public. But villagers held firm.
"It's sacred that the pig is killed in the yard of the village's temple, or else the festival will lose its meaning," said Tran Van Duc, head of Nem Thuong Village.
But Duc said that, because of negative feedback over the past two years, the butcher would only cut the throats of the pigs, rather than decapitate them.
Nguyen Tu Quynh, Vice Chairman of the Bac Ninh People's Committee, confirmed public decapitation had been removed from the ceremony.