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Major Lunar New Year festival cancelled due to COVID-19

Rosy Huong Rosy Huong

huongthhd@gmail.com

January 27, 2021 | 08:18

One of the biggest festivals in the first lunar month for northern Vietnamese will be canceled to prevent possible spread of COVID-19.

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A crowd is seen at the Tran Temple Festival during the 2019 Lunar New Year. Photo: VnExpress

The annual Tran Temple Festival will not be held in Nam Dinh province this year, local authorities have decided.

Normally, the festival will take place from the 11th to the 16th day of the first lunar month, following the celebration of Lunar New Year, to occur in mid-February, according to VnExpress.

Both ritual and festival activities will not be held at the temple in the province’s Nam Dinh town, said Pham Thi Oanh, its deputy chairwoman.

"The temple will not be open to visitors. On the most important day of the event, only a few senior citizens would be allowed to commemorate the Tran kings," she said.

Oanh continued by saying the province first considered simply limiting the number of visitors but found "it would be difficult to control" since the occasion normally drew tens of thousands of people.

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People flock to the ceremony to pray for good fortune and happiness for the new lunar year. Photo: VNA

The temple precinct is not big enough, spread across only eight hectares in total. It would be hard to impose social distancing in case large crowds turn up, she explained.

The festival is held annually to commemorate Kings of the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400) and Tran Hung Dao, or Tran Quoc Tuan, a royal prince, statesman and military commander who helped Vietnam, then Dai Viet, repel two out of three major Mongol invasions in the late 13th century.

The seal opening ceremony, the main ritual of the festival, takes place on the 14th night of the first lunar month, with additional events including singing, lion and dragon dancing, and martial arts performances.

People flock to the ceremony to pray for good fortune and happiness for the new lunar year.

The temple will still open as normal before and after the festival but visitors will have to follow all protocols for preventing Covid-19, including ensuring social distancing, wearing masks and having their hands disinfected.

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Vietnam reported two imported COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours to 6pm on January 26, raising the total to 1,551. Photo: VNA

Vietnam reported two imported COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours to 6pm on January 26, raising the total to 1,551, according to the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

The new cases, one returned to Vietnam from the US on January 22, and the other from Dubai on January 9, were quarantined upon their arrival at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport. They are being under treatment at Cu Chi hospital for COVID-19 treatment.

So far, Vietnam has seen 693 domestically-transmitted cases, according to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA).

Also on January 26, five patients were given the all-clear, bringing the total number of recoveries to 1,430. Death toll has maintained at 35.

Among patients undergoing treatment at medical establishments across the country, 14 have been tested negative for the coronavirus once, 10 others twice and 12 thrice.

At present, 21,994 people who had close contact with COVID-19 patients or entered Vietnam from pandemic-hit areas are under quarantine./.

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Rosy Huong