Pagodas are packed on the first day of the new lunar year in Saigon with people waiting to ring bells, wishing for peace.
Visiting pagodas is a long standing tradition of Vietnamese families during the Lunar New Year festival (Tet). Big pagodas in Saigon like Vinh Nghiem, Xa Loi, Vietnam Quoc Tu and Pho Quang are packed with visitors on the first day of the Year of the Dog.
At Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, hundreds of people, besides offering incense, queue for ring bells.
“In the New Year, a tolling bell expresses the harmony between heaven and earth. It is also considered a prayer for well-being to all,” a 52-year-old woman named Ngoc Lan said.
Despite having to queue for a long time in the hot weather, everyone feels happy at the prospect of tolling the bells.
In the pagoda’s main hall, everyone shows their respects, praying in front of Buddha statues.
“I always come to Vinh Nghiem Pagoda on the first day of Tet, praying for peace for the nation, and health for my family and me,” said Nguyen Thu Hang, 50.
Many people visit pagodas during Tet not only to pray, but also to relax, temporarily forgetting the hardships in of life.
Many people can be seen touching Buddha statues, wishing for good luck in the new year.
Pagodas offered visitors flowers and small bags of rice and salt on the eve of the new year. “Salt is believed to banish evils, bringing good luck to people in the new year. Salt also symbolizes depth of relations, while rice symbolizes the wholeness in the year ahead,” a woman named Hoa said.
As pagodas receive more and more visitors, they frequently use speakers to remind visitors to bring less than three incense sticks to the main halls, leave shoes outside, and not to put incense sticks in flowerpots.