Tourists to Vietnam are left spellbound by the earthy appeal of this tiny country called Vietnam. From the Red River delta in the north to the Mekong Delta in the south and the acres and acres of green paddy fields in the costal areas leaves a lasting impression in your mind. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest metropolis of Vietnam. Formerly known as Saigon the city is home to almost 7 million people and is the financial and economic hub of the country. The city is as fascinating as it is contrary. From ancient and colorful pagodas to gleaming sky-scrapers the city is a charming balance of the past with the present.
One of its most interesting sights is the Ong Bon Pagoda located at 264 Hai Thuong Lan Ong Boulevard. This small temple was built just after World War II by the Fukien Chinese. It is dedicated to Ong Bon, the god who is believed to be a Guardian of Happiness and Virtue. Its front door is adorned with rather fierce looking armed warriors. Long coils of sweet smelling incense are always left burning in the corners of the pagoda.
Ong Bong is also the god of wealth, which is why so devotees bring fake paper currency to burn in the pagoda’s furnace as an offering to him. This ritual is believed to be very auspicious and participating in it is said to bring financial blessings to the individual and his/her family.
The central feature of the pagoda is an ornately carved wood and gold altar and a finely crafted statue of Ong Bon. Exquisitely painted murals of lions, tigers, and dragons adorn the pagoda.
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