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Authorities debate festivals' role

posted Jul 9, 2012, 11:38 PM by An Bui
HA NOI — Many traditional festivals have been banned from taking place due to culture managers considering them as superstitious, researcher Nguyen Van Huy has told a workshop on awareness and management in Ha Noi.

Huy, deputy director of the Centre for Cultural Heritage Research and Promotion, gave many examples of traditional rituals practised by some ethnic groups, such as hau dong (mediumship), which have been absent from people's lives because of opinions built up against them during the 1960s-70s.

"Since the doi moi (renewal) period (in mid-1980s) opinions have changed. Now is the perfect for researchers to study and restore traditional and unique festivals," he said.

"We don't have a particular definition for superstition, so I suggest setting up concepts to identify such cultural activities and festivals while using the term sensibly when we assess traditional rituals."

The researcher pointed out that events such as the Saint Giong Festival, was once lost due to incorrect interpretation, but that it had been restored as a symbol for patriotism and recognised as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UN culture agency UNESCO.

Researcher Dang Van Bai, from the National Heritage Council, agreed with Huy in that there is no superstition present in traditional festivals and religions.

"Some individuals use superstition and take advantage of beliefs for personal purposes to cause a bad influence on the community," he said.

The researchers highlighted modern festivals adapted from abroad that have no long-standing traditions and held for promotional purposes alone such as the Flower Festival in Da Lat, the Hue Festival, the Tea Festival in Thai Nguyen and the Coconut Festival in Ben Tre.

"Managers should survey the 8,000 traditional and modern festivals held in Viet Nam every year," said Luu Tran Tieu, chairman of the National Heritage Council.

"While many new festivals are organised successfully and help promote local tourism and culture, some waste money," he noted.

The workshop was organised by the National Heritage Council with the participation of many researchers and representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Source VNS