Mourning ceremonies for more than 23,000 people who have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam were held solemnly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on Friday evening, attracting thousands of participants.
A nationally televised memorial ceremony commenced on-site at 8:00 pm local time at Thong Nhat Park in Hanoi and the Reunification Hall in southern Ho Chi Minh City, under the organization of the Central Committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front in collaboration with locauthorities.
Standing Secretary of the Secretariat Vo Van Thuong, Vice State President Vo Thi Anh Xuan, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, and other central officials offered incenses and flowers at the mourning service in Ho Chi Minh City, along with local high-ranking officials including municipal Party Committee Secretary Nguyen Van Nen.
|Participants hold lit candles in their hands at the mourning ceremony for COVID-19 victims at the Thong Nhat Hall in Ho Chi Minh City on the evening of November 19, 2021. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre
"We are here to pray for the souls of the deceased to be freed and rest easy in eternal sleep in the eternity world,” said Do Van Chien, chairman of the Central Committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, at the Ho Chi Minh City service, where a one-minute silence was held in memory of COVID-19 victims.
Over the nearly past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has been raging around the world, causing great losses in human life, including more than 23,000 fatalities in Vietnam, Chien said.
It was extremely painful when many people passed away without loved ones by their side or without dying words.
Many families had two or three deaths. There are people who have lost both parents to the pandemic, Chien said.
|Do Van Chien, chairman of the Central Committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, is seen speaking at the commemorative service in Ho Chi Minh City on November 19, 2021.
“There were babies born without being in the loving arms of their mothers who had died from COVID-19, without drinking the first drops of bread milk in their lives. Such cases are very heartbreaking,” the official added, referring to the fact that 2,600 Vietnamese children have become orphaned due to COVID-19.
Chien also honored many noble deeds appeared during the pandemic, with millions of ‘gifts of great solidarity,’ ‘social security bags,’ and thousands of tons of food and medical equipment having been offered by benefactors to epidemic sufferers.
He also highly appreciated the great efforts and sacrifices of front-line health workers in the fight against COVID-19.
“In this sacred moment, let’s light a candle in memory and respectfully bid farewell to our compatriots, including those abroad, who have died due to the pandemic,” Chien said.
|This image shows people conducting a memorial service for COVID-19 victims in an alley in District 4, Ho Chi Minh City on November 19, 2021. Photo: Tu Trung / Tuoi Tre
The official also prayed for the COVID-19 to be eradicated soon so no more people suffer from pains and losses.
Warning that the pandemic situation is still complicated and unpredictable, Chien called on people to raise awareness of disease prevention.
At 8:30 pm, religious facilities in the city simultaneously rang their bells as a tribute to the deceased.
Meanwhile, attending the memorial ceremony in Hanoi were Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee Dinh Tien Dung, head of the Central Committee for Mass Mobilization Bui Thi Minh Hoai, and other senior officials.
|Flower lanterns are dropped on Nhieu Loc - Thi Nghe Canal in Ho Chi Minh City on the evening of November 19, 2021 as a tribute to people who died from COVID-19. Photo: Le Phan / Tuoi Tre
These officials offered incenses to the deceased at the mourning service at the Thong Nhat Park, where more than 300 delegates on behalf of millions of people in the capital were present to light the memorial candles for COVID-19 victims.
At 8:00 pm, Venerable Thich Thanh Tuan rang the bell three times to start the memorial ceremony at Quan Su Pagoda along with thousands of other temples across the country.
In addition to the representatives of the central government and Hanoi authorities, many religious dignitaries also offered their prayers to the souls of the pandemic’s victims.
|In this photo, a requiem for people who died from COVID-19 was taking place at Quan Su Pagoda in Hanoi on November 19, 2021. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
“For our Catholics, November is the month we dedicate to praying for the departed souls. Today, local authorities have conducted a memorial ceremony for COVID-19 victims, an event I consider very meaningful,” said Father Anthony Nguyen Van Thang from the Hanoi Cathedral.
The Catholic dignitary expressed his great condolences to those who have lost loved ones due to the pandemic.
“May God give more strength to the survivors so that they can be full of hope to face the current complicated pandemic,” said Father Thang.
|A nine-year-old student in Hanoi is seen attending the memorial service for COVID-19 victims at Quan Su Pagoda in Hanoi on November 19, 2021. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre
|This image shows Hanoi Party Committee Secretary Dinh Tien Dung dropping flower lanterns on Bay Mau Lake in Hanoi at the mourning ceremony for the deceased from COVID-19 on November 19, 2021. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre