As in previous years, the Huong Pagoda festival in Hanoi’s My Duc district, one of the largest of its kind in Vietnam, has welcomed some 16,000 visitors, several times more than its capacity.
According to Nguyen Van Hau, deputy head of the district’s People’s Committee, despite the organizer’s tremendous efforts to handle the situation, including opening another entrance and improving traffic control, the total of more than 4,000 visitors a day has proved overwhelming.
The way to Huong Tich grotto and the cable cars is severely crowded, with people elbowing one another to make their way through the masses.
Several locals and middlemen offer rope ladders for VND15-20,000 (US$1) for visitors to use. Those who wish to get a seat quickly on the cable cars have to pay another VND100,000. Visitors are overcharged for several services offered at the fest.
The festival at the Huong Pagoda, considered by many Vietnamese as Buddha’s land, draws huge numbers of pilgrims every year. This year’s festival will run until April.
A host of other traditional fests also opened on Feb 6, the 7th day of Tet, in other northern provinces. Among them are the “Tich dien” agriculture promoting fest in Ha Nam province and the Xoan fest in Phu Tho province, which showcases “xoan” (traditional northern music) performances, rituals, and folk games to pay tribute to the Hung Kings, the country’s legendary founders.
Meanwhile, the Giong fest in Hanoi, which celebrates the country’s success in fighting off invaders in ancient times, features palanquin processions and offerings of bamboo flowers.
Young man stabbed, dies at Huong Tich pagoda fest
On Feb 5 afternoon, while some thousand tourists and pilgrims attended the Huong Tich Pagoda festival in central Ha Tinh province’s Can Loc district, a scuffle broke out among a group of youths.
Right in front of the pagoda’s main hall, a young man, whose identification has yet to be revealed, was stabbed in the neck by another in the group and lost consciousness. He died on the way to the hospital. The incident sent tourists fleeing in panic.
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