Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival symbolises the martial spirit of the people. (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Many people organise buffalo fighting festivals to gamble illegally, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Trinh Thi Thuy said at a conference held in Hanoi this week.

The conference was designed to review the operation of festivals nationwide in the first quarter of the year - the most popular time for festivals, as the coming of spring is celebrated - and set up plans to organise festivals which will be held in the rest of the year.

Thuy said the ministry gave permission to organise the buffalo fighting festival in Do Son, Hai Phong city only because it was recognised as the national intangible heritage. Other such festivals are organised without permission and will be eliminated.

The ministry and departments of culture at localities will ban festival practices which are violent and cause chaos, she said, adding that the Do Son buffalo fighting festival will lose its status if cases of gambling are reported.

Currently the festival is opened for free for the public and the number of buffaloes has been decreased to restrain the amount of violence, she said.  

Vice Director of the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports Truong Minh Tien reported that the management of festivals is controlled tightly and strictly.

Hanoi is a locality with the largest number of festivals in the whole country; that’s the reason why managing festivals here is complicated and difficult, he said.

“There are 1,200 festivals organised annually. There are many festivals that last a number of days and attract a huge number of visitors. Huong Pagoda Festival in My Duc district is a prime example with 1.3 million of pilgrims flocking to the festival this year,” Tien said.

“However, I realise that the local authorities this year fulfiled their tasks and the bahaviour of festival goers has been raised,” he said.

Tien also pointed out that people still waste money in buying and burning too much joss paper or ghost money at religious festivals held at temples and pagodas.

“Festivals should be organised at the lowest cost possible, and aim to develop the country’s fine cultural tradition and educate younger generations about the customs,” he added.

Last year, the Hai Phong City People’s Committee suspended Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival when a local man was gored to death by his fighting buffalo. Since then, the ministry tightened the management and organisation of such festivals.

The buffalo fighting festival is a traditional festival that is attached to a Water God worshipping ceremony and the custom of “sacrifice”. The most typical reason for the ceremony is to express the martial spirit of the local people.-VNA