Located in Disrict 5, Thien Hau Pagoda is a 19th century buddhist temple dedicated to Lady of the Sea, Goddess Mazu. The temple features intricate carvings and lanterns on the outer courtyard, while inside are vibrant dioramas that depict scenes from a Chinese city. The main dais houses the three statutes of Mazu flanked by her guardians.
Built by the Chinese in the 19th century, the temple is dedicated to Thien Hau, the Sea Goddess in Chinese mythology. The word Thien Hau is, in fact, the Vietnamese adaptation of the word Tianhou or the "Empress of the Heaven". This temple is dedicated to the sea goddess who was once a Fujian girl, Mazu. She is believed to have saved members of her family from disaster at sea through her spiritual powers. It is now believed that she guards and rescues people at sea by flying on a cloud.
Thien Hau Temple Architecture
Mazuism although recognized by neither Chinese or Taiwanese government, finds its roots in both Buddhism and Taoism. And these influences are beautifully married together in the Thien Hau Pagoda, visible in its architecture and idols. Still standing tall and mighty, even 200 years after it was built, has beautiful architecture. Teal green wrought irons gates surround the temple, with traditional Chinese roof fitted with porcelain idols relevant to Chinese history and religion and traditional Chinese lanterns. As soon as set food inside the temple, you are greeted by huge pots with many incense sticks right by the altar of Mazu.
With evident Chinese influences in the art adorning the roof of the temple, it depicts stories of a city in 19th century China. These ornate pieces of art depict many things from European and Persian traders, demons, animals and even the legendary fight between the Guan Yu and a fighter. You can find 3 beautiful bronze idols with multicoloured crowns of Thien Hau on the main dais. Besides that, there is a life-sized model of a boat and the idol of Goddess Long Mau, "Protector of Mothers and Newborns." Large bronze bells dot the temple and will be rung by the staff if a donation is made. If you happen to visit during the third month of the Vietnamese Lunar Calendar, you should definitely head over here as there is a procession in which the idol of Mazu is paraded through District 5.
How to Reach Thien Hau Temple
Thien Hau Temple is located at 710 Nguyen Trai Street, Ward 11 of District 5, roughly 20 minutes from the city centre in Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown. You can easily Uber here, or use Google Maps to get here
Thien Hau Temple is a must visit to see how two cultures come together, and result in a beautiful marriage of beliefs, history and astonishing artwork.
Photos of Thien Hau Temple
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