A participant in the 'pig-slaughtering' festival in the village of Nem Thung in Bac Ninh province, Vietnam, on Feb. 24 2015. (EPA Photo/Ha Duc Thanh)

Vietnam Pig Slaughter Festival Proceeds Despite Uproar

FEBRUARY 24, 2015

Nem Thuong. Thousands of revelers gathered at a village near Vietnam's capital Hanoi on Tuesday to witness the brutal execution of two pigs in a bloody tradition condemned by animal rights groups.

Each year residents of Nem Thuong village in Bac Ninh province publicly slice one or two pigs in half with ceremonial machetes in a ritual they believe will bring them good luck.

But many in the Southeast Asian nation, where animal rights are a nascent but growing concept, are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the brutal festival.

Vietnam's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism had earlier called on villagers to tone down the more bloody aspects of the ritual sacrifice.

Those pleas fell on deaf ears Tuesday as two pigs were paraded around the village to the sound of beating drums and horns before being tied down and sliced in half with repeated machete hacks to cheers from the crowd, an Agence France-Presse reporter on the scene saw.

"The older generations here say it is the village's choice, that the pig slaughtering does not violate the law and must be decided by the villagers themselves. We want to keep the traditions of our ancestors," Nguyen Dinh Loi, from Nem Thuong's old people's association, was quoted by official media as saying.

After the animals were slaughtered, villagers dipped bank notes into pools of blood in the belief that doing so will ensure good luck and fortune for the new year.

Animals Asia Foundation, which campaigns against the tradition and other regional animal cruelty issues, says this year's festival was preceded by increasingly disapproving commentary in Vietnam's tightly controlled media and on social networks.

"We are seeing a broad condemnation of cruelty from Vietnam's people and increasingly from politicians too," Tuan Bendixsen, the group's Vietnam director, said.

"Those who act in defiance of that consensus do so using culture as an excuse, and a lack of animal cruelty laws has fueled this further."

Nem Thuong's pig slaughter ceremony has taken place for centuries on the sixth day of the first month of the new lunar year.

Locals and historians say the festival commemorates the 13th century anti-imperial general Doan Thuong, who is regarded as the village's guardian deity.

Agence France-Presse