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Controversial pig slaughter ceremony shies away from public eye in northern Vietnam

Controversial pig slaughter ceremony shies away from public eye in northern Vietnam

Friday, February 03, 2017, 11:29 GMT+7

Organizers of a particular ritual in northern Vietnam in which pigs are slaughtered in public made a slight change to their controversial tradition during Thursday’s ceremony, opting to keep this year’s butchering closed to spectators.

The pig slaughter rite, now in its 17th year, is a practice in which residents of the Nem Thuong village in Bac Ninh Province pay homage to a 13th century Vietnamese general.

The annual ceremony calls for Nem Thuong villagers to gather in the yard of the local temple on the sixth day of the new lunar year to witness two handpicked healthy pigs being slaughtered before their meat is delivered to participants as a token of good luck.

Despite widespread criticism for its brutality, organizers of the rite have consistently refused to cease the practice, instead attempting to avoid the ire by opting to hold the event behind closed doors in a private area covered with plastic sheeting and only allowing slaughterers and senior villagers to participate in the event.

The change was first applied in 2016 and continued in this year’s ceremony.

“The swine were no longer slashed [brutally] in public, but instead slaughtered in a similar manner to typical meat production,” the organizers asserted to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper after Thursday’s ritual.

For this year’s ceremony, the chosen pigs were carried around the village to be witnessed by the community, then taken to the middle of the temple yard for the homage and offering ritual before being brought to the concealed butchering section.

Villagers and tourists watched the ritual behind fences and next to police officers standing guard.

The concealed slaughtering house

“We decided to slaughter the pigs more privately, away from public view, to make the rite more in line with cultural customs in Vietnam,” Nguyen Dinh Loi, deputy head of the organizing board, told Tuoi Tre.

The rite was originally enacted as a remembrance ceremony for Ly Doan Thuong, a general in the Ly Dynasty during the 13th century in feudal Vietnam.

As legend has it, general Ly and his warriors were besieged by their opponents near the Nghe Mountain in the village after a battle and soon found themselves without food.

The general then asked the troops to hunt for wild boars.

After filling their stomachs, Ly led his men to break the siege and emerged victorious from the battlefield.

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