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Fainting, queue jumping at Hanoi’s iconic Huong Pagoda festival

Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 20:43 GMT+7
Fainting, queue jumping at Hanoi’s iconic Huong Pagoda festival
A sea of people visit the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Some visitors fainted while many jumped the queue as hundreds of thousands of people flooded the iconic Huong (Perfume) Pagoda in rural Hanoi on Sunday to attend the opening ceremony of an annual Buddhist festival.

The Huong Pagoda Festival is one of the most important of its kind for Buddhist followers in northern Vietnam, observed from the sixth day of the first month until the third month of the lunar year.

During this period, Buddhist followers would go on a pilgrimage to Huong Son District in Hanoi, which houses a vast complex of religious attractions including the Huong Pagoda that was first built in the 17th century.

This year, the festival’s opening ceremony fell on Sunday, the sixth day of the lunar Year of the Pig, attracting around 50,000 visitors from across the region.

It is estimated that nearly 125,000 people visited the Buddhist complex between Thursday and Saturday, before the festival began.

The early summer heat did not discourage festival goers from elbowing each other for hours to even get to the pagoda’s entrance.

A cable car system installed at the site to help transport visitors to the Huong Tich Cave, where a famous statue of Guan Yin is located, was also overloaded with an hour-long queue.

Impatient visitors were spotted climbing over the fences to cut in line, while others fainted from the heat and suffocating crowd.

Parents who came with their young children had no choice but to turn around and abandon their pilgrimage after witnessing the chaos.

A group of visitors enjoy their meal among litters at the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A group of visitors enjoy their meal amid litter at the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
Dog and porcupine meat is sold at a restaurant near the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019 despite a ban. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
Dog and porcupine meat is sold at a restaurant near the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019 despite a ban. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A sea of people visit the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A sea of people visit the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A sea of people visit the Huong Tich Cave in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A sea of people visit the Huong Tich Cave in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
Visitors climb over a fence to cut in line at the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
Visitors climb over a fence to cut in line at the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
Visitors rest on stone turtles at the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
Visitors rest on stone turtles at the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
Visitors queue to enter the Huong Tich Cave in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
Visitors queue to enter the Huong Tich Cave in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A police officer instructs visitors to get in line at the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A police officer instructs visitors to get in line at the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
Visitors offer prayers before an altar inside the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
Visitors offer prayers before an altar inside the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A sea of people visit the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A sea of people visit the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A sea of people visit the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A sea of people visit the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A sea of people visit the Huong Tich Cave in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A sea of people visit the Huong Tich Cave in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
Visitors disembark canoes used for transporting them to the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
Visitors disembark from canoes used for transporting them to the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A long queue is seen at a cable car station at the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A long queue is seen at a cable car station at the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A woman is given medical support after she fainted among the crowd who visited Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
A woman is given medical support after she fainted among the crowd who visited the Huong Pagoda in rural Hanoi on February 10, 2019. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

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