Ho Chi Minh city is not just a place for entertainment; it is also a land for religions. Holy Lady Temple is a destination for that sacred purpose.
When participating in a memorable Ho Chi Minh City tour, one destination that should undoubtedly grace your itinerary is the Holy Lady Temple, or Chua Ba Thien Hau. The pagoda was built by a group of Chinese people in 1760 and underwent many renovations. It is located at 710 Nguyen Trai, District 5, in the middle of Saigon Chinatown.
The Holy Lady Temple, constructed in approximately 1760 by a community of Chinese immigrants, has undergone numerous restoration efforts over the years. Situated in what is now known as Cho Lon, the initial Chinese hub of the city, the pagoda holds historical significance that is uniqueness in Vietnam tours. Scholar Vuong Hong Sen provides insight into the primary deity revered at the pagoda, known as Holy Mother. Her name is Lam Mac Nuong, and she was born on March 23rd, 1044, during the reign of King Tong Nhan Tong. Her remarkable spiritual journey began at the tender age of eight when she demonstrated the ability to read. By the age of eleven, she had embraced Taoism as a practitioner, and at thirteen, she received a divine poem from the gods, which she followed on her path to enlightenment.
A poignant legend associated with Holy Mother recounts a moment of heroism. When her father and two brothers were caught in a fierce storm while transporting salt to Jiangxi province, Lam Mac Nuong was at home weaving cloth with her mother. However, she suddenly felt a powerful compulsion to rescue her family. With her teeth firmly gripping her father’s shirt and her hands holding onto her brothers, she embarked on a daring rescue mission. Amidst this crucial moment, her mother called out to her, prompting her to open her mouth and respond. This inadvertent action allowed the waves to sweep her father away, but she managed to save her two brothers. This act of bravery led to her being called upon whenever seafarers faced perilous situations. In 1110, during the Song Dynasty, she was officially ordained as “Thien Hau Thanh Mau,” the deity of the Holy Lady Temple.
Structure and architecture
There are many Holy Lady Temples that people know in Mekong Delta tours. However, one in Saigon Chinatown is one of the most appealing sites for structure and architecture.
The external architecture of the Holy Lady Temple reflects the reverence and devotion towards its main deity, Thien Hau Thanh Mau, also known as Lam Mac Nuong, as described by scholar Vuong Hong Sen. Lam Mac Nuong, born on March 23rd, 1044, during the reign of King Tong Nhan Tong, exhibited extraordinary qualities from a young age. By the age of eight, she demonstrated the ability to read, and her spiritual journey led her to become a Taoist practitioner at the age of eleven. Her remarkable connection with the divine deepened when, at the age of thirteen, she received a divine poem from the gods, which guided her on the path to enlightenment.
The pagoda’s external structure, influenced by the worship of Lam Mac Nuong, exudes intricate details and ornate design. It is a testament to the reverence for this deity and the rich history of the pagoda itself. The architectural elements outside the pagoda display elaborate carvings, intricate wooden panels, and ceramic figurines that capture the essence of Chinese-Vietnamese cultural fusion. These decorative elements create a visually captivating experience for visitors, illustrating the significance of Lam Mac Nuong’s heroic acts and spiritual journey.
Moreover, the pagoda’s external structure serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of Lam Mac Nuong’s bravery. The temple’s design is a representation of her courageous act of saving her father and two brothers from a perilous storm at sea. Her gripping of her father’s shirt with her teeth while holding onto her brothers with her hands is depicted in the external decorations, paying homage to her remarkable feat of heroism. This connection between the pagoda’s architecture and Lam Mac Nuong’s story is a reminder of the deity’s continued protection and blessings for seafarers and worshippers alike.
Inside the primary chamber known as Thien Hau Cung, you’ll find the central statue of Holy Mother, flanked by two other revered figures, Kim Hoa Nuong Nuong on the right and Long Mau Nuong Nuong on the left.
The statue of Holy Mother holds a unique history—it was meticulously carved from a one-meter-high wooden block long before the pagoda’s construction. Initially, it was venerated in Bien Hoa before being relocated to its current home in 1836. The statues on either side of Holy Mother are crafted from colored hard paper and adorned with splendid embroidery, adding to the visual richness of the interior.
Within the pagoda’s premises, you’ll also discover an auxiliary room situated on both sides of the shrine. These rooms are dedicated to venerable deities such as Quan Thanh, Jizō, and Than Tai, underscoring the spiritual diversity and significance of the pagoda.
Furthermore, Holy Lady Temple houses an impressive collection of approximately 400 antique artifacts. Among these treasures are seven deity statues, six stone sculptures, nine ancient steles, two small bells, four bronze incense burners, a stone incense burner, ten diaphragms, twenty-three inscriptions with opposing phrases, and forty-one intricately embossed paintings. Each of these antiquities has been carefully crafted with meticulous attention to detail, showcasing delicate and intricate artistry that resonates with the pagoda’s spiritual and cultural heritage.
Each day, Holy Lady Temple graciously opens its doors to a multitude of visitors who come seeking blessings for safety and prosperity. However, the most bustling times at the pagoda are during the initial and full moon days of each month and the festive Chinese New Year holidays. Among these occasions, Ba’s Day, celebrated on March 23rd according to the lunar calendar, stands out as the principal festival of the pagoda.
On this significant day, both Chinese and Vietnamese devotees flock to the pagoda to pay their respects to Lady Thien Hau. The festivities commence the night before with the “Ba” bathing ceremony held within the pagoda’s sacred grounds. As the dawn of the 23rd arrives, a grand procession in honor of Lady Thien Hau takes center stage. During this procession, the statue of Lady Thien Hau is carefully placed within a palanquin and carried through the streets by young men and women adorned in splendid attire, creating a vibrant and visually captivating spectacle. The procession is accompanied by dragon boats, red placards bearing the names of revered deities worshipped within the pagoda, and various dance troupes, including the mesmerizing lion and dragon dance teams. Additionally, the air is filled with the melodies of traditional ethnic music performances, which collectively contribute to a lively and bustling atmosphere that envelops the neighborhoods surrounding the pagoda.
In conclusion, the Holy Lady Temple is not just a place of worship but a living testament to the cultural heritage and spiritual devotion that define Ho Chi Minh City. Its captivating architecture, rich history, and vibrant religious festivals make it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the city’s cultural tapestry. Other areas in Cu Chi Tunnels tour are fascinating to explore, take time to pay a visit it with Holy Lady Temple tour.