A Saigon pagoda hosts three religions in Taoist harmony

By Thanh Nguyen   August 20, 2019 | 12:31 pm GMT+7

The Khanh Van Nam Vien pagoda welcomes followers of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism with Taoist rituals.

A Saigon temple hosts three religions in Taoist harmony

The pagoda, built in 1936, stands on a 2,000- square-meter land lot at 269 Nguyen Thi Nho Street, District 11. It has its origins in Guangdong, China.

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The structure of the pagoda remains unchanged from when it was first built with a 2-storied main building. As in many other places of worship, bonsai trees and plants are placed in front of the pagoda.

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Inside the main hall are altars of many deities from the three religions: Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. Pictured above is a statue of Lu Tung-Pin, depicted as a Taoist deity with a magic stick that dispels evil and salvages human beings.

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Visitors burn incense in front of the main altar.

The clearest characteristic of Taoism is the Bagua sign, a Taoist cosmological symbol representing reality with yin and yang at the center, carved on the wooden altar on which the incense burners are placed.

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On the right wing of the main house is the altar for Wong Tai Sin, a Taoist deity with the power to control the weather.

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Sunlight hits the hallways at noon, bringing out the contrasting interior colors.

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The second floor of the main building is a neatly organized typical Chinese home setting. An altar is placed in the center next to two bookcases with glass doors.

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A statue of the Buddha is placed inside a glass closet on the second floor.

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The bookshelves hold lots of books about Taoism in Han (Chinese) characters, the written language of government and scholars in Vietnam until the early 20th century.

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Although the pagoda is dedicated to Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, the rituals are almost entirely Taoist.

Some Taoists dressed in traditional costumes celebrate the full moon day of the seventh lunar month (August 15 in the Georgian calendar).

There are three important occasions in the pagoda for followers who worship Lu Tung-Pin (4th of the fourth lunar month), Guan Yu – the God of War (24th of the sixth lunar month) and Jade Emperor (9th of the first lunar month).

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Under the Bodhi tree in the courtyard is a space for followers to burn joss money. A large Bagua sign is carved here.

Today, the sacred site for the Chinese-origin community in HCMC is also a tourist destination for locals and foreigners.

 
 
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