Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Visiting Pagodas

It's hard to move around on special lunar days if you want to visit a papoda, especially in Viet Nam where almost 70% of people follow Buddhism. Pagodas can be seen the whole length of the country.This is a really exciting time for everyone who is religious, even if they're not. Lights are all turned on, lots of fruits from people is put on altars. The different colors make the pagodas look amazing.

It is difficult to imagine how many insense sticks are burned everyday, especially on special lunar days? The pagodas employ a few people to simply stand right behind the vases to take most of the insense sticks out as they are actually put in. Sometimes, these people can't do it quickly enough. Inhaling too much incense smoke is not good for your health at all even though the smell may be pleasant. I actually feel dizzy whenever I go on such a busy day.

Food served at pagodas is usually good, really healthy but a wierd thing is that sometimes they make it into animal shapes, which I'm still confused about.

Besides the food, many services are provided at pagodas which seem strange, such as a burning insense service, and offering carrier service. Can you imagine going to a pagoda to pray for health, luck and business but hiring someone to carry your tray of offerings and burning your incense for you? It seems weird, right? Why don't people do it themselves to improve their luck honestly? On the other hand, it helps lots of people who want a job to earn money.

I've blogged about beggars before but it's also a problem on these days. Interestingly, there are not many old men and women but heaps of young people. I don't really mind helping people who really need help if they are old and can't do anything.

Another problem on such busy days at the pagoda is crime? The police wander around because there are so many thieves who hang around in the crowds trying to take the opportunity to pickpocket as people push each other trying to put their stuff on the altar or try to pray. This is an unfortunate thing that shouldn't happen. What can we do?


squish said...

It's amazing the more I learn about you and your life just how similar things are here as well! Pick pockets and thieves seem to know exactly were to go and whom to take advantage of. Poverty seems to be the one thing that makes things like this go around. I have no answers but empathy toward those in need. Your country is so beautiful, someday my wife and perhaps a few friends and I will visit.


Anonymous said...

There are a lot of beggars in India as well. I know with my mind that I should not encourage child beggars but at the same time I think that they are often forced to beg for reasons beyond their control, so I try and buy them food, or sweets instead of giving them money but sometimes a little change is just the easy way out.

FooDcrazEE said...

u ought to be in Malaysia for a holiday Tu, let us bring u around

Vagabonder said...

Which pagoda was that?

Thanks for dropping by.

Masood Ahmed said...

wonderful.......through you blog i came to know about vietnam's pagodas...i enjoyed.would come again...


You're right there. People when making a prayer request should their offerings for themselves otherwise their offerings are useless.
Crimes here like pick pocketers are also very rampant here especially when there are lots of crowds. Even in a public bus when its crowded.

Jade L Blackwater said...

These are great images... I too am curious about the animal-shaped foods... perhaps they are shaped that way to invoke those animals spirits?

Do people also have personal/family altars where they can make offerings and say prayers, or is it more appropriate/traditional to go to community pagodas and altars?

Internet Street Philosopher said...

Wow, even though I am not Buddhist this still seems like an interesting visit.

Tim Rice said...

Pagodas have always fascinated me and your photos are beautiful.

Crystal said...

I was recently in the Lonely Planet Africa Forum, and apparently Nairobi is nicknamed Nairobbery due to the pickpocketing problem! They say the best way to avoid getting fleeced is to try not to stand out as a tourist, but I think opportunists will take advantage of a crowded scenario irregardless.

Btw that's awesome that Vietnamese have so much respect for the elders and ancestors, Buddhism is a really wonderful religion of peace from what I understand, and I think we all could gain from the wisdom of those who have lived before us.

black feline said...

It's a common sight...beggars, petty thieves, pick pockets, peddlars to congregate around places of worship...be it temple, mosque, church...etc somehow, all have the same notion..there is sufficent charity in such places :)

Human said...

Peace to you and yours.
Your pics are amazing.
I am very giving to the poor. However when I see some guy standing on the street corner day after day begging I get a bit miffed. If he can do that he can be a cashier at the local market.

My wife used to work at a bank where a old time begger would deposit his daily take, keeping only a few dollars for eats and stuff. At age 65(the common retirement age here)
he took his fortune of a couple of hundred thousand and moved down to Florida(a common retirement destination).
btw - hooked up from Fahd's blog(me here).

Van Cong Tu said...

squish, Thanks, Good to see something different huh :)
Thao, these pagodas are Tau pagoda and Thien Y pagoda.
Rivka, I know, Other bloggers told me about that too, oh well.
fooDcrazEE, One day for sure.
Masd, Come and see the different, thanks.
FRIDAY'S CHILD, thats a real shame, I think.
JLB, They made that shapes to make people imagine ....
Street Philosopher, I am not either hehe
Crystal, black feline, yes, you are right !!!
Human, same here mate :)

Timrice Thanks

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