VietNamNet Bridge – Dr. Tuan Bendixsen, chief representative of Animals Asia in Vietnam, said he would launch a stronger call for removal of the rituals "causing pain to animals".
"Our proposal to remove the pig-chopping ritual from the court of the communal house of Nem Thuong Village has received sympathy and support of the majority community, but the organizing board of the Nem Thuong village festival still performed the ritual. We are very disappointed," said Dr. Tuan Bendixsen.
Tuan said that killing pigs in such a brutal way not only causes pain to the animal but also hurts the feelings of the witnesses and adversely affects the image of Vietnam.
Although Nem Thuong people still performed the ritual on February 24 at Nem Thuong Village in Bac Ninh province, some of Animals Asia opinions had been taken seriously by the locals, he said.
For example, participants did not try to jostle with one another to wipe banknotes on the pig’s blood as they had in previous years.
Tuan repeated the view that the traditional festival of Nem Thuong Village would be more beautiful, more civilized and more complete if the pig-chopping rite was removed or replaced by other humane rites.
"We will call the authorities to consider and evaluate the animal killing rituals and its impact on society. In addition, we will develop programs to raise awareness of the community, especially in the home of these festivals, in order to change the views of people in considering animals as a tool to entertain people," Tuan said.
In 2013, Animals Asia sent a letter to the Ministry of Culture and the Department of Culture of Bac Ninh Province to express concern about and opposition against the pig-chopping rite at the festival of Nem Thuong Village.
Since 2013, the local authorities have urged local people to change perceptions and the pig chopping rite. Local people changed the organization of the custom by holding the rite in a restricted area, where only several people are allowed to enter. However, according to Animals Asia, many people, including children, still witnessed the pig-killing scene.
In an open letter released on January 27, AAF launched a campaign to seek signatures to call for authorities in Bac Ninh and the Ministry of Information and Communications to issue regulations to put an end to the traditional pig-chopping festival in Nem Thuong village of Tien Du district.
Each year, on the sixth day of the lunar new year, Nem Thuong villagers organize a festival to honor their local guardian deity, Doan Thuong. The celebrations include traditional festival features such as a march and live music. One part of the ceremony is the pig-chopping rite.
A live pig is shuttled around the village before being placed on the ground on its back. Assistants hold ropes attached to the pig's legs, spreading the animal's appendages apart to expose its belly. A man wielding a large blade then chops the pig in half, and the villagers rush to smear the blood on bank notes, hoping for good luck in the new year.
Animals Asia said this is considered a cruel festival, which has been condemned by individuals and organizations inside Vietnam and abroad. This activity not only affects the human psyche, but also the economy and society, and in particular, the tourism industry and the image of Vietnam.
Animals Asia Foundation’s proposal received mixed reviews. Most readers said that this ritual should be removed. The spokesman of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Pham Dinh Tan also said the Ministry did not support festivals with brutal and backward rituals, and asked locals to not be "conservatives to maintain the pig-chopping ritual".
Meanwhile, most of the villagers and cultural experts said this sacrificial rite is not offensive and the local community’s wish to maintain this rite should be respected in order to preserve the identity of the village.