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Vietnamese Festival Criticized for Penis Plagiarism

This year, residents of Lang Son province celebrated their annual Na Nhem Festival with all the standard accoutrements of a countryside celebration: musical activities, games and a giant pink penis mascot. You know, a typical holiday.

According to VietnamNet, festival participants marked the event, which is recognized by the government as an intangible heritage holiday, by parading around not only a large male member but also an oversized model of female genitalia. The phallus was one meter long and weighed 80 kilograms because, of course, size matters.

Ban Tuan Nang, a member of the Institute of Culture and Development under HCMC's National Academy of Politics, attempted to restore the ritual in 2012, however according to Nang, Na Nhem's enormous genitals attracted too much attention from festival goers despite being only a small portion of the event.

Typically, the celebration begins at 5am with a procession to the temples of various emperors in the village. Following this procession, festival attendees bring offerings to the emperors' altars, which happen to include larger-than-life models of genitalia. Later in the day, other games and activities take place.

This year, however, Na Nhem found itself in trouble after photos of the event went viral online and netizens accused the organizers of copying the giant penis from a Japanese festival known as Kanamara Matsuri Festival. While the latter celebration has had a penchant for penises since the 17th century, Na Nhem Festival rituals don’t mention anything about carrying around giant genitalia, according to a description on the Ministry of Culture’s website.

I didn't know anything about the Japanese festival,” Nang explained to VietnamNet. “This year, I proposed to make bigger genitals to add some color to the event. It's better if a festival can put a smile on people’s faces.”

Director of the Culture Research Institute Nguyen Xuan Kinh, however, was less approving of the festival's penis-related traditions. “I don't have enough evidence to say whether Na Nhem has straight-out imitated the Japanese festival or not,” the official told VietnamNet. “I don't think we should hold this ritual. It's just a cheap way of attracting attention and people to spend money. Even if it's a traditional ritual, we shouldn't recreate it nowadays.”

[Photo via Thanh Nien]

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