The bell at the three-arch-entrance gate to Dong Ngo pagoda is rung 108 times to signal the transition from the old year to the new year. Then a ritual is held to pray for peace, prosperity, favorable weather, and bumper harvests.
Dong Ngo pagoda, located in Hai Duong city, was built in 971 by Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang. The pagoda underwent several restorations and has earned recognition as a national cultural and historical relic.
A 320-year-old nine-story lotus tower is a cultural masterpiece located within Dong Ngo pagoda. The nine stories represent the nine stages of achievement in Buddhism. There are two similar towers at Giam pagoda, also in Hai Duong province, and But Thap pagoda in Bac Ninh province.
Venerable Thich Bao Son of Dong Ngo pagoda said, “The nine-story lotus tower is an iconic Vietnamese Buddhist work of art which was recognized as a national treasure. It is 5 meters tall. The tower has six equal surfaces with a total of 162 Buddhist statues on them. Other highlights of Dong Ngo pagoda are a 700-year-old tree and a 300-year-old tree.”
|The 320-year-old nine-story lotus tower at Dong Ngo pagoda
Dong Ngo pagoda contains many stone artifacts. Once through the entrance gate, visitors encounter a lotus pond decorated with stone mortars. There are 600 stone mortars of various sizes. 300 of them form a map of Vietnam 30 meters long and 10 meters wide.
Historian Tang Ba Hoanh, who has spent 30 years studying Hai Duong’s history, told VOV, “You can see many antiquities at Dong Ngo pagoda. One of them is an incense bowl made in 619 AD, which is our treasure and a showcase of Cay village ceramic craftsmanship. Here we also have 48 Buddha statues. Dong Ngo is one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam.”
Dong Ngo pagoda used to be a major center of the Truc Lam Yen Tu Zen sect.
The tranquil landscape surrounding the pagoda is typical of rural areas in Vietnam’s Red River delta. Flowers and bonsai trees grace the interior of the pagoda.
|Dong Ngo pagoda
“My family visits Dong Ngo pagoda on t New Year’s Eve to offer incense and pray for peace and luck. This national historical and cultural relic reminds us of our age-old traditions,” a visitor said about Dong Ngo pagoda.
Another shared, “We go to a pagoda on the very first day of every lunar year. But this is the first time I’ve been to Dong Ngo pagoda, where I’m enjoying the peaceful ambiance and the fruitful trees. I look forward to a year of good luck. I hope the pandemic will soon end and our life will return to normal.”