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A master plan for festivals – why not?

The Saigon Times Daily
Monday,  Feb 5,2018,21:24 (GMT+7)
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A master plan for festivals – why not?

The Saigon Times Daily

It can be seen as a right move at a right time when the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism at a meeting last Friday clarified its viewpoint that festivals in the country will be reviewed, and solutions taken to correct or even root out those festivals deemed as unsuitable. A temporary solution, as stated by Deputy Minister Trinh Thi Thuy at the meeting, is that most bull-fighting festivals and those of similar nature nationwide - except for the Do Son Bull-Fighting Festival that has been recognized as national heritage– will not be allowed this year.

The ministry’s argument is clear-cut: all public events that cannot be ascertained to be traditional festivals, and those whose contents incite violence, cruelty or superstition shall not be approved. The deputy minister explained that traditional festivals should be aimed at preserving traditional values, promoting heritage merits, and meeting the people’s spiritual demands.

In fact, many festivals nationwide have over the years stirred up public grievances as they fail to meet aforesaid criteria. Graphic contenton bulls or pigs being slashed to death or decapitated, pictures of people bloodily fighting each other for lucky balls, and scenes of people cramming small banknotes into the hands of Buddhist statues at pagodas or temples to pray for good luck have alarmed serious degradation of cultural and moral values. Such so-called festivals – whose main goal to a large extent is to reap easy bucks – have eroded the nation’s cultural identity on one hand and cause economic losses on the other.

Statistics by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism show that there are nearly 9,000 festivals organized countrywidea year, meaning there are some 22 festivals a day. Millions of people are engaged in such festivals, and tens of millions of working days are lost due to such events, which can hardly be beneficial for the economy.

In fact, there have been numerous complaints about the traditional Tet holiday when many people, especially those in rural areas, tend to distant themselves from work for weeks or even over a month despite a much-shorter period off work regulated by the labor ministry, leaving many head-scratching employers with a severe shortage of laborers after Tet. At a time of rising international economic integration, for many employers local and foreign alike, such a long period off can hardly be accepted.

Tet is also the peak of the festive season, and it often ushers in many spring festivals in the country.

Therefore, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s move to trim down the number of festivals is seen a positive approach.

However, there needs to be a more daring approach to festivals. All must be reviewed, screened and evaluated, and only those that genuinely hold social, economic or spiritual merits should be allowed. To do so, great efforts must be taken to forge a strategy, or a master plan for festivals.
 

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