The Long-Lasting Tradition
In Vietnam, the custom is described as “Lễ Chùa” – in which “lễ” means not only visiting but also showing respects in all sincerity to Buddha and Gods of the pagodas or temples. No matter how busy Vietnamese are during the hilarious atmosphere of Tet, everyone attempts to burn incense to wish for best wishes for the New Year like healthiness, happiness and wealthiness.
Vietnamese people often visit pagodas and temples right after the New Year’s Eve moment, and going out of the house on the very moment of the New Year is also counted a traditional custom of Vietnamese. This is called “xuất hành đầu năm” in Vietnamese, simply translated as the first going out in the New Year to bring lucky home.
After having done all the praying, Vietnamese pluck buds from pagodas, this action is called “hái lộc”. Bring a small sacred branch of tree from pagodas would bring healthiness and prosperity to ones’ home. Another interesting activity Vietnamese people often do while visiting pagodas and temples is lots drawing. Those lots have short paragraphs to forecast about ones’ fortune in the New Year. Although this activity is kind of superstitious, people still enjoy it because whether it says good or bad ones can still interpret positively.
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda
Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is located at 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Ward 7, District 3. Vinh Nghiem Pagoda is a big one in Saigon. Besides, it has the highest tower built from stone in Vietnam. It has seven floors with total height of l14m. The pagoda was built from 1964 to 1971. Its name and model are the same as a pagoda in Bac Giang province, north Vietnam built in the eleventh century, in Ly dynasty.
Ba Thien Hau Pagoda
Address at 710 Nguyen Trai, District 5. Ba Thien Hau temple was built in 1760 to honour Mazu the ‘Lady of the Sea’ and when you enter through the iron gate you will see massive stone incense burners in front of the entrance of Mazu’s altar. The exterior is beautifully designed with the traditional curvy roof on which small porcelain figures are standing symbol for themes from Chinese religion and legends. This is one of the most sacred places you cannot miss when travel to Saigon. Every Tet holiday, Saigon people often come to burn incense for the New Year in peace.
Ngoc Hoang Pagoda
Ngoc Hoang Pagoda is located at 73, Mai Thi Luu, District 1. It was built by a monk named Luu Minh. He is from Quang Dong, China and came here in the early century 20. It is an ancient temple built after Chinese pagoda’s style. The main shrine worships Ngoc Hoang (the Creator) and other gods. Coming Ngoc Hoang Pagoda, we will know little about Chinese architecture and understand the credence of people coming here. This is the only pagoda visited by President Barack Obama while he was staying Vietnam.
Xa Loi Pagoda
Xa Loi Pagoda is located at 89 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Ward 7, District 3 and was open in 1961. Xa Loi Pagoda is famous for beautiful architecture and landscape. Its bell tower is the highest in Vietnam. It is 32 m high and has 7 floors. The bell is 2 tons of weight and hung on the highest floor. Its sound propagates very far. The pagoda is for worshiping xa loi of the Buddha, so it is named Xa Loi pagoda. It is the first pagoda to build with new architecture. The front is for worshiping, and the back is for teaching the reason of Buddha.
Giac Lam Pagoda is located at118 Lac Long Quan, Ward 10, Tan Binh District. Believed to be the oldest temple in HCMC (1744), Giac Lam is a fantastically atmospheric place set in peaceful, garden-like grounds. It is one of the pagodas built most early in Gia Dinh (the name of HCMC before). It has many ancient statues and documents of history, culture, art, architecture, sculpture.