Mekong Delta pagoda preserves Khmer culture

By Nguyet Nhi   May 31, 2020 | 09:45 pm GMT+7
The Xiem Can Pagoda in Bac Lieu Province is both a place of worship and a repository of Khmer culture in the Mekong Delta.
Mekong Delta pagoda preserves Khmer culture

Located seven kilometers away from Bac Lieu Town's center, the pagoda stands out for its signature features of Khmer architecture.

It was built in 1887 on an area of over 4,500 square meters that hosted many constructions, all of them facing the East, a principle in Khmer culture.

Mekong Delta pagoda preserves Khmer culture

The pagoda’s large premises and gardens are kept spick and span by the novice monks who reside there.

Mekong Delta pagoda preserves Khmer culture

The pagoda exudes a sense of peace and spaciousness.

Mekong Delta pagoda preserves Khmer culture

Statues like this one, of Prince Siddhartha riding a horse and his man charioteer Chandaka holding on its tail, tell the story of the Buddha.

The pagoda also has many features that highlight Khmer history and culture. The original name of the pagoda was Komphirsakor Prét Chru, which means “deep river”. It was later changed to Xiem Can, meaning “adjacent to water”.

Mekong Delta pagoda preserves Khmer culture

Buddhas and Bodhisattva reliefs are found on all the pagoda’s walls.

Mekong Delta pagoda preserves Khmer culture

Eighteen steps lead to a wall with large mural of the Buddha. The sanctum of the temple is beyond the wall. The steps are flanked by a pair of kylins, the mythical creatures standing guard.

Elaborate carvings are everywhere. The pedestals on which the mythical creatures stand carry messages written in Khmer.

Mekong Delta pagoda preserves Khmer culture

The walls of the sanctum carry many images of the Buddha and his life story. In the center is a Buddha statue that is two meters high.

Mekong Delta pagoda preserves Khmer culture

Two novice monks walk in the corridors by the side of the main building in the pagoda complex.

The Xiem Can Pagoda has architecture and features of a Khmer pagoda.

Mekong Delta pagoda preserves Khmer culture

Novice monks learn Khmer culture, history and Buddhist philosophy at the Xiem Can Pagoda.

In traditional Khmer culture, the youth can start studying at the pagoda when they turn 12.

Mekong Delta pagoda preserves Khmer culture

A young monk hangs up his robe on a clothesline.

Mekong Delta pagoda preserves Khmer culture

The entrance to the pagoda is a stunning sight at night when it is lit.

The stupas of the entrance, the huge trees that stand on either side, the Khmer inscriptions, and the detailed carvings on the wall that depict different scenes from the life of the Buddha evoke a sense of reverence and awe.

 
 
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