Thien Hau Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City
This temple, located in the Cholon (Chinatown) district of the city, is dedicated to Thien Hau, the Lady of the Sea, who is also known as "Mazu". The interior of the temple is actually a partially covered courtyard, at the end of which is the altar to Thien Hau. The exposed portions of the courtyard contain incense burners, and open the view to the remarkable porcelain dioramas that decorate the roof. The dioramas show scenes from a 19th century Chinese city, and include such colourful figures as actors, demons, animals, and Persian and European sailors and traders.
This temple was built in the early nineteenth century to honour, Thien Hau, the goddess of the sea and protector of sailors and fishermen. It is one of the largest and most popular temples in Saigon and is bustling with worshippers from the local Chinese community, placing burning joss sticks in the giant incense urns. There are also huge incense coils suspended from the ceiling.
Very close to China Town you will find this 18th-century temple dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea and Protector of Sailors. Of special note is a scale model boat commemorating the first Chinese arriving from Canton, and a whimsical ceramic frieze lining the roofs above the inner courtyard.
The finest pagoda in Saigon just might be Cholon's Thien Hau Temple on Nguyen Trai Street that dates from the late 18th century. Its beautiful roof, topped by ceramic friezes, is remarkable. This is the oldest Chinese temple in Saigon and is consecrated to the Sea Goddess, the Goddess Protector of Sailors, based on Chinese folk beliefs. Within this temple you will find alcoves dedicated to other Chinese gods such as the Money God (it is said that good luck in doing business will be granted after some money is offered to him), the Mother Goddess, and the Mermaid.
A large, ancient looking open-air central area is filled with the pungent aroma of burning incense and its swirling pale white smoke. Coils of incense hang from the rafters and they all contain an attached red tag. These tags are prayers that get sent when the incense burns out at the top of the coil. My guide actually purchased one for me and placed my name on the prayer tag for luck and good fortune. Several women were busy lighting bundles of incense sticks and then praying within the alcove at the rear of the temple. A prayer for good health and business can be said after an incense coil or bundle is purchased.
To one side of the temple is an alcove containing a pool of fish, among which, is a giant. I never really did figure out what was represented by this pool and its fish.
The picture is a collage of views from outside and inside the temple.
Built by the Cantonese congregation in the early 19th century. Apparently one of the most active in Cholon, it's deidicated to Thien Hau (also known as Tuc Goi La Ba).
It is said that Thien Hau has the ability to travel over oceans on a mat and ride clouds. Thus she is able to save people on the high seas.
The 2 land turtles that live here are said to be the protectors of the pagoda.
There are intricate ceramic friezes above the roof line of the inner courtyard. Two miniature wooden structures in which a small figure of Thien Hau is paraeded on the 23rd day of the 3rd lunar month are located near the large braziers.
On the main dais are 3 figures of Thien Hau, one in front of each other, each flanked by 2 servants or guardians.
To the left of the dias is a bed for Thien Hau, to the right, a scaled down boat and the Goddess Long Mau (Protector of Mothers & Newborns).