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“Your Excellency” buried on Tuesday at the mouth of the Cai Cung River in Bac Lieu province

In Social life on February 26, 2010 at 3:22 pm

“Your Excellency” buried on Tuesday at the mouth of the Cai Cung River in Bac Lieu province

QĐND – Thursday, February 25, 2010, 22:10 (GMT+7)

A strange and solemn burial took place last Tuesday at the estuary of the Cai Cung River. A large 15 ton, 16 metre whale, which had been named “Your Excellency” by local fishermen, was sadly found floating, dead, 42 km from the coast on Monday.

Dozens of fishermen, using more than ten boats, managed to drag the remains of the huge creature to shore to honour it and pay their last respects.

More than 10,000 people travelled to the locality on Tuesday, to mark the burial of the remains and to pay their respects and burn incense, according to Do Tien Ha, an official of the Vietnamese Coast Guard Service. This is similar to the respect shown when a special friend or honoured leader dies. Plans are now being discussed to build a pagoda or temple to honour the remains.

Whales play an important part in the beliefs of some ethnic minorities in Vietnam, particularly those with long traditions of sea fishing.

Some of these beliefs involve the Whale God, a powerful spirit that can calm the waves and lead seafarers to shelter, and hence the reason why some fishermen pay homage and respect to this huge inhabitant of the seas. He is referred to as ‘ngu ong’, which means ‘Mr. Whale’. This name is a sign of both fear and reverence, a god so powerful that even to speak his name is considered to be tempting luck and danger.

But living whales are honoured as well, and these fishermen never hunt the large marine mammals, which they regard as giant fish. The carcasses of whales that have died natural deaths are buried with great respect and ritual ceremonies. After three to five years, the bones are exhumed, shrouded in ceremonial cloth and carried to a temple to be honoured, as if the creature was a beloved community god.

Whale funerals always attract large crowds and the whale cult is deeply rooted in Vietnam’s culture.

There are many festivals in different towns and provinces associated with the worship of the whale god. In Vung Tau, there is a pagoda devoted to the deity and a very popular annual festival which takes place in the eighth lunar month. On festival days, the temples are decorated with flower garlands, while colourful lanterns are hung during the night. There are also cultural activities including hat boi (classical drama performances) and hat ba trao (traditional folk songs). These festivals are now considered to be important attractions for tourists, due to the strange fascination which Europeans, Americans, Australians, Vietnamese and others have for these creatures, all of which help contribute to the local economies.

In Da Nang, a centuries-old whale festival takes place each year in the middle of the 3rd lunar month each year. The whale temple, as well as all the houses and boats, are beautifully decorated. The peace offering is conducted in the first evening at the whale temple by village elders. Offerings, which do not contain seafood, are distributed when the ceremony begins.

At dawn the following day, a procession of boats on the sea in a set formation displays the fishermen’s devotion to their Whale God. At midnight, the official ceremony is conducted as school children offer incense and the orchestra plays traditional music on local instruments.

These beautiful rituals are still practiced today and the last whale burial was in 2002.

Franc Neary

Source: QDND

Former Party leader’s remains buried in Ha Tinh

In Vietnam Society on December 3, 2009 at 10:42 am

The remains of the former Party General Secretary Ha Huy Tap, which were found recently in Ho Chi Minh City after 68 years, were buried in Dong Nem Temple Hill in Ha Tinh Province on December 2.

The remains of the former Party General Secretary Ha Huy Tap, which were found recently in Ho Chi Minh City after 68 years, being taken to the burial site in Ha Tinh Province on December 2 (Photo: SGGP)

Present at the burial ceremony were Ho Duc Viet, a member of the Politburo and the head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Organization and Personnel ; Ha Thi Khiet, head of the Central Party Committee’s Commision for Mass Mobilization; Nguyen Van Son, deputy head of the Central Commission for Propaganda and Ideological Education; and other Party and Government officials.

A city delegation led by Deputy Party Committee Secretary Huynh Thi Nhan also attended the event.

Ha Tinh Province’s Party Committee Secretary Nguyen Thanh Binh said: “We bow in deep respect to the memory of … Ha Huy Tap and express our great gratitude for him, a firm and loyal communist, an excellent ideologist, and a talented leader of the Party, State and people who devoted all his life to the struggle for national liberation …

“In following his great revolutionary and moral example, the province Party Committee and people promise to unite and make more efforts … to make Ha Tinh more prosperous, civilized, and beautiful.

“He passed away but his fame and work will be alive forever …”

Mr. Tap had been executed by the French colonialists in 1941 in Hoc Mon District.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Indonesian disaster leaves whole villages buried

In World on October 3, 2009 at 10:44 am

 Whole villages in Indonesia’s quake zone were found obliterated by landslides Saturday, as rescuers searched desperately for up to 4,000 people believed still trapped in the disaster area.

The extent of the damage from Wednesday’s 7.6-magnitude earthquake widened as attention turned to the hundreds of villages in the hills outside the Padang, a devastated city of one million which was worst-hit.

AFP journalists travelling from the coastal area on Sumatra island to the surrounding mountains encountered dozens of devastated houses on the steep roads, and then four villages buried by landslides.

A search and rescue officer from the local government named Topan said that up to 400 people could have perished in the four hillside villages alone.

“The difficulty in this rescue operation is that the houses are buried under the soil as much as four metres deep,” he told AFP. “So far we have been using our hands to dig up the soil.”

Indonesian Red Cross staff load kitchen equipment onto a truck at Minangkabau international airport in Padang

One body was seen lying in a stream nearby, but Topan said he expected to find many more. A 100-strong rescue team arrived on the scene but was unable to bring in heavy machinery because of the broken, narrow roads.

Bob McKerrow, head of the Indonesia delegation of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society, said aerial photos showed the extent of the damage in the rocky, mountainous outlying regions. Related article: Aid efforts

He said hundreds of villages were in the disaster zone, and that the few which had been visited all reported deaths and serious injuries that were in need of treatment.

“Typically in every village, there’s an old woman with a broken back with a gash on her arm and she’s not moving. That’s why we’re sending in helicopters with medical teams,” he told AFP.

In Padang, where hardly a single building has been left undamaged, rescuers were racing against time to haul any survivors from schools, hotels and homes that have been reduced to tangles of concrete and rubble.

Foreign rescue teams with sniffer dogs and infra-red equipment were being deployed to help overwhelmed and underequipped Indonesian emergency crews.

“We estimate about 3,000 to 4,000 people are still trapped or buried under the rubble,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Indonesia El-Mostafa Benlamlih told AFP.

The United Nations has said that at least 1,100 people have died in the disaster while the government toll, which has not been revised since Thursday, stands at 777 but it has said it expects the figure to go much higher.

“I think the death toll is going to rise dramatically, the current figure of 1,200 is going to be very low from listening to people working at the scene. There will certainly be more than 2,000,” McKerrow said.

Indonesia appealed for foreign aid Friday as the stench of decomposing bodies indicated that many trapped in the wreckage have already perished.

Experts said that with specialised crews now arriving, there was some chances of still finding survivors providing their injuries were not too serious.

“I’ve worked on big earthquake disasters and if you’ve got an air pocket you’re ok,” McKerrow said. “It’s hot outside but cool inside. There’s still hope if people have got air.”

Specialist teams from Japan and Switzerland with infra-red equipment were working Saturday in Padang, he said, adding that he had heard reports of three or four people being pulled to safety early Saturday.

But the UN’s Benlamlih said that the window of opportunity was closing fast.

“Generally there is a maximum of five days from the time the quake strikes for the buried or trapped victims to survive. We only have one or two days left to save them,” he said.

One lucky survivor was 20-year-old Ratna Kurnia Sari, who was pulled limp and covered in dust from the ruins of a college on Friday after spending more than 40 hours buried beneath rubble.

The quake struck off Sumatra‘s west coast northwest of Padang on Wednesday, on a major faultline on the volatile “Ring of Fire” that scientists have long warned was a disaster waiting to happen. Facts: Earthquake pointers

Source: SGGP