Hanoi's iconic Huong Pagoda empty at peak time over Covid-19 fears

By Ngoc Thanh    February 18, 2021 | 01:33 am PT
Huong Pagoda in Hanoi has been left deserted for the first time in five decades with biggest spring festival suspended amid coronavirus concerns.

Huong (Perfume) Pagoda Festival, one of the country’s biggest spring celebrations, always commences on the sixth day of the first lunar month, which fell on Feb. 17 this year. However, due to current Covid-19 complications, authorities in Hanoi’s My Duc District where the pagoda is located have canceled this month-long festival.
The mangament board of the pagoda said around 80,000 pilgrims had flocked to the pagoda on the festival's opening day in previous years.


Yen Stream where boats typically dock to carry pilgrims to the pagoda is left completely deserted.
Overcrowding has become common at the pagoda in Huong Son Commune, situated amidst mountains and forests, in the early days of a lunar new year. The grand festival attracts hundreds of thousands of Buddhists.


Ticket counters from where pilgrims catch a cable car ride to Huong Tich Cave, the heart of Huong Son Complex, have been locked up.

At 9 a.m., Thien Tru Pagoda, part of the Perfume Pagoda complex, was closed. In the same period of previous years, this place hosted many opening festival activities.

At 9 a.m, Thien Tru Pagoda, part of the Huong Pagoda complex, was closed down. In the same period during previous years, this area hosted many opening festival activities.


Along the stone-paved road of more than three kilometers leading to Huong Tich Cave 318 shops are covered by canvas as all business activities are suspended.


Tran Xuan Thuy, 53, a resident of Luong Son Commune, My Duc District, visited the pagoda to experience the "unprecedented" quiet atmosphere and clean his shop.
"My family's livelihood depends on the Huong Pagoda festival as we could earn VND5 million ($220) during this peak season," Thuy said.

Huong Tich Cave had no visitors.

Huong Tich Cave bereft of visitors.


A Buddhist at Tran Song Temple quietly sweeps away banyan leaves.


The entire route leading to Huong Pagoda is blocked by checkpoints where 20 people including security staff, health workers and militia stand guard to remind people not to enter.
Hanoi has recorded 36 community transmissions during the country's new wave since Jan. 28.

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