Xa Loi Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City
Chua Xa Loi Pagoda is said to be the largest Pagoda in Saigon, but, as the main ceremonial hall was closed, I was a bit deceived and visited around. This is a quite recent construction and was inaugurated in 1958; The pagoda was built to enshrine a sample of the relics of Gautama Buddha; as there are relics, it is a very important one in the Buddhist world. This pagoda had a moment of celebrity in 1963, when South Vietnamese troops, loyal to Catholic president Ngo Dinh Diem raided and vandalized the pagoda; the seven storey bell tower (main picture) is the highest of Vietnam.
Well, it was closed (picture 2), but I managed to find an entrance and walked into the yard where a Buddha in typical position (Picture 3), with a halo made of a mirror. I know the swastika is a common sign in Buddhist and Hindu religions, but I always have a thought for a black period of European history when I see one; there are here on frontons of some buildings (picture 4). I walked in the yard and went up a staircase which led to the rooms of the monks or priests; they live in a very quiet place, with terraces, gardens, birds singing free or in cages. . . . It was very quiet, did not know what was going on, I felt alone there, and the saffron or brown monk’s robes were drying on the wires (picture 5); it was just quiet, I felt like alone here, watching some butterflies, and the stupid thought of taking along one of the robes suddenly rushed through my brain; as a young student, I would have done this as a joke, but I am not a student since long. . . and I am unable to learn some sorts of lessons of life. . . . . .
This is in a more remote corner of Saigon. The temple complex is huge, enclosed by a park. This tower is octagonal in shape and has 7 floors, each smaller than the one below and contains a Buddha statue in the center.
Built in 1956, this was a centre of resistance against the Diem government. Diem's brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, attacked the pagoda in 1963 and 400 monks and nuns were arrested helping to solidify opposition among Buddhist to the Diem regime. The site was also the location of several self-imolations by monks protesting during the war.
The temple complex today is fairly large and is enclosed by a park. There is a tower inside that is an octagonal shape with 7 floors.
This is one of the main temples of HCM city. It was the center of resistance to the government during the war. This is where the monks who set themselves on fire in protest came from.