Last lunar new year was already wonderful as I had the chance to celebrate with my parents as well as my sister. This year, though the little sissy is missing, I had a friend coming over from Germany. He is a semi-prof Photographer, thus I had to use the chance to take some non-iphone pictures while wandering around Saigon with him. Luckily the weather was not too hot, so we could walk around District 5 (China town) and visit a random pagoda, which was infact the oldest ones in District 5 – Pagoda of the Lady Thien Hau (Chùa bà Thiên Hậu).
From Wiki: Thiên Hậu is the Vietnamese transcription of Tianhou “Empress of Heaven”, an epithet of the chinese sea goddess Mazu (Mazuism), the deified form of Lin Moniang, a medieval Fujianese girl with spiritual power. They say the goddess whorshipped by people is called Mi Châu, born 23.03.1044. One day when her dad and two brothers were sailing on high sea to sell salt they encounter an enormous storm. She then transformed and rescued all of them by holding her father’s shirt between her teeth and holding her brothers in her arms. However, when her mum was calling for her she, by trying to answer, let her father go and thus could only rescue the brothers. Since then sailors or anyone encounter danger on sea was calling out her name and pray for her rescue.
The temple was erected by the cantonese community around 1760 and was later expanded in 1800 and several other years afterwards.
Although this year’s Tet was rather quiet and the streets were much less decorated compared to last year, but it temples, streets and houses were still decorated with pretty flower arragements and red lantern. The smell of burnt insense in temples, the white smoke covering the praying halls are what I like second (first would the smell of burnt fire crackers, which have been prohibited long time ago)… also the particular sound of drums of dragon dancers are enhancing of Tet-is-here-feeling in me. I believe it has been decades since I last hear those drums not to mention those dances. We were lucky enough to see two groups of dragon dancers, though we didn’t have time to see them performing till the end. The acrobatics, the colours and performance was awesome. Everyone passing by was stopping to see their dances and probable feel like a child again.
Another Pagoda we visited was called Pháp Viện Minh Đăng Quang, build since 2009 and is supposed to finish in 2-3 years. The pagoda is build on 37.490 qm.