Although there are plenty of pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City, as I have mentioned a few times recently, most of them are pretty quiet; which could lead to inner peace, or you might just get sleepy from boredom. Do not get me wrong; I enjoy my temples as much as the next guy but I can only watch turtles play and incense burn for so long. If you could use some adventure in your pagoda life, it might be time for a visit to a pagoda where something is going on: Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagoda (Chùa Vĩnh Nghiêm) in District 3. It is also one ofVietnam Popular Destinationsfor Vietnamese people and foreign tourists.
Sitting next to the canal at the end of Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street which is one crowded street in Ho Chi Minh city, Vinh Nghiem looks like your ordinary Buddhist pagoda, albeit a large one. This place which is one of Vietnam Popular Destinations was built in 1971 based on the design of architect Nguyen Ba Lang. The area of the complex is somewhere in the range of 8,000 square meters. Look for the 25-metre tall Devotee Relic four-storey Tower, built in 1982, situated behind pagoda. It’s a modern place and was one of the first pagodas in town to be made with concrete, which is one of the reasons the complex is so large.
Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagoda – one of Vietnam Popular Destinations is part of a larger complex that includes a large school; the main sanctuary is a large building that sits in the middle of the courtyard. Inside you will find a long hall with a large shrine to Buddha as well as some other relics. The 40-metre high tower, to the left of the gate and main hall complex, is notable as being the tallest Buddhist structure in all of Vietnam. The whole place is usually festively decorated with flags everywhere, on the roof, on the stairs, and strung up over the courtyard. People come here to pay homage to Siddhartha Gautama, Buddha himself, and Samantabhadra, the Lord of Truth and Manjusri.
Although the place is big, the best reason to visit Vinh Nghiem is to witness one of the many celebrations the temple hosts. The large area becomes packed with people on important days, and you can follow the crowd to partake in the activities. The large bowls of incense grow into large glowing red piles of smoldering ash, the main hall fills with people praying to Buddha, and the street outside the gate turns into a mini market with vendors selling bushels of incense sticks.
My favorite part of these activities is waiting in the long line that forms to wait to ring the pagoda’s large bell. The line snakes all around the front of the main hall, so expect to wait several minutes, but when you finally get to the end you can swing the large piece of wood, which is tied to the top by rope, and ring that bell yourself. It’s a good-sized bell too, about two meters tall, and it rings rather well. So well that I’m glad I do not live next door because this goes on all night.
If you want to come to a pagoda where there is something going on, one of Vietnam Popular Destinations like this pagoda is one your great choice. There are many events are held according to the lunar calendar; the best nights are the 1st, 5th, and 15th of each lunar month and any Buddhist holiday, especially Lunar New Year. Make sure to leave time to visit Vinh Nghiem Pagoda when sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City. I think you probably like this place too much and then understand more about Buddha as well as Vietnam’s culture.