Xa Loi Pagoda



Xa Loi Pagoda

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This was one of the most important pagodas during the communist revolution. Built in 1956, it was a center of resistance to Ngo Dinh Diem’s corrupt and anti-Buddhist regime in the early 1960s. Three of its monks immolated themselves publicly as a gesture of protest, and on one occasion, about 400 worshippers and clergy were arrested. These actions were crucial in galvanizing wide spread opposition to the Diem regime, ultimately leading to the coup that resulted in his assassination in 1963.

Today, few traces of these tumultuous events remain as the pagoda’s colorful seven- tiered tower rises above the  temple complex. The roof soars to 49 ft (15 m), and large painted panels at the top of the walls depict scenes from the life of the Buddha. The monks’ quarters are on the first floor of the two-storied main building, and the sanctuary, unusual for its spare decor, is above. The ample space is devoid of furnishings, pillars, censers, and displays so that the visitor is drawn to the massive bronze statue of the Buddha seated behind the solitary altar.

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