|An overview of the the Ba Om pond, the Ang pagoda, and the Khmer culture museum (Photo: Ngoc Anh/VOV5)
The center of the complex is Ba Om pond, a square pond 300 meters on each side surrounded by a 300-hectare forest. The pond was dug many centuries ago as a reservoir to store rain water for domestic use and agricultural irrigation. The forest has been carefully preserved, although several century-old trees have had their roots exposed by the soil erosion of wind and rain.
Ba Om pond was listed as a national historical and cultural relic in 1994. Its peaceful, romantic aura has earned it the nickname "Da Lat of the plain".
Thach Thi Nhi, a nearby resident, said: “Ba Om pond is one of the key attractions of Tra Vinh province. It attracts a large number of tourists every year. During the Moon Offering Ok-om-bok festival of the Khmer, activities such as the Traditional Clothes Festival are held at the pond, attracting a lot of people, including the Khmer and people of other groups. Next to it is the Khmer Culture Museum, which displays ancient Khmer farm tools, musical instruments, everyday clothing, and wedding and ceremonial costumes.”
|The Ang pagoda (photo: Ngoc Anh/ VOV)
On the other side of the Khmer Culture Museum is Ang pagoda, typical of the Khmer pagoda in Tra Vinh with its magnificent towers soaring straight up to the sky.
The gate of Ang pagoda is carefully carved with images of ogres, fairies, and holy birds that are part of the Khmer culture. In the main hall is a large space decorated with dragons of gilded vermilion. The four walls of the main hall bear frescoes expressing Buddhist thought and recalling the life of Buddha Shakyamuni.
In front of the main hall is a tower containing the remains of the pagoda’s head monks. This is the only Khmer five-top tower in Tra Vinh province which was influenced by Hindu thought on the universe, nature, and people.
Monk Thach Sa Oane of Ang pagoda said: “Ang pagoda was built in 990. It was recognized as a national historical heritage in 1994. The pagoda contains many precious relics. It has been repaired many times but retains its original Khmer character. There are many sculptures closely associated with Khmer culture, such as holy birds, dragons, snakes, and fairies who safeguard the pagoda. The pagoda attracts about 300,000 visitors a year.”
|Ba Om pond is surrounded by an old primitive forest. (Photo: Ngoc Anh/VOV5)
In the summer children come to the pagoda to study. Monk Thạch Sa Oane says: “The monks teach the children the Bali language, math, physics, chemistry, and the Buddhist Sutra of Theravada Buddhism. The classes are free. They teach the children to follow all traditions and customs, respect their grandparents and parents, study hard, and not do bad things.”
The complex of Ba Om pond, Ang pagoda, and the Khmer Culture Museum is a source of pride for the Khmer. Each year the Khmer and people of other ethnic groups in Tra Vinh and adjacent provinces gather here to celebrate major festivals such as Chol-chnam-thmay, Dolta, and Moon Offering Ok-om-bok.