Dedicated to Mariamman, an incarnation of Shakti, the Hindu Goddess of Strength, Mariamman Hindu Temple caters not only to the small community of Hindus in Ho Chi Minh City, but also to the many local Vietnamese Buddhists, who worship here either looking for good luck or driven by superstition.
Built in the late 19th century, the temple is quite small but beautiful, and superbly maintained by the government. The bright, coral-colored wall of the façade is surmounted by numerous images of deities, cows, and lions, all painted vividly in pink, green, and blue. Over the entrance, a stepped- pyramidal tower covered with more sculpted images, mostly of female deities, rises from the rooftop.
Inside, an imposing statue of a red-robed lion guards the entrance, which opens into an uncovered portico that surrounds the main sanctuary. Three of the courtyard’s walls are inset with altar nooks in which images of various gods and goddesses rest. Set in the center of the portico, the sanctuary itself is slightly raised. Made of stone, it recalls the architectural style of Angkor Wat, and forms the setting for the multi-armed representation of Mariamman. The goddess is surrounded by many attending deities, including Ganesha, the Hindu Elephant God, as well as two female deities, who stand on either side of her. Two lingam (Hindu phallic symbols) also stand before her.
The altar is surrounded by numerous incense burners and brass figurine oil lamps. Worshippers hold incense sticks in both hands while praying. The rear of the sanctuary has a prayer wall against which the faithful press their heads in the hope that the goddess will be able to hear their prayers clearly.