Quan Am Pagoda from the street, Cholon, Ho Chi Minh City

Burning incense sticks and smoke in Quan Am Pagoda, Cholon, Ho Chi Minh City

A man prays with incense sticks in a shaft of light in the rear courtyard of Quan Am Pagoda, Cholon, Ho Chi Minh City

Chùa Quan Âm (Avalokiteshvara Pagoda) is a Chinese style Buddhist pagoda located on Lao Tu Street in Cho Lon, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Founded in the 19th century, it is dedicated to the bodhisattva Quan Âm (Avalokiteshvara in Sanskrit, Guan Yin in Chinese). The pagoda is very popular among both Vietnamese and Chinese Buddhists. Most of the inscriptions are in Chinese characters, but some labels have been added in Vietnamese. The spirituality of the pagoda is a mixture of Pure Land Buddhism centered on the figure of Amitabha Buddha, special veneration of the female bodhisattva Quan Am, Taoism, and traditional Chinese religion, the latter including the devotion to Thien Hau (the Lady of the Sea) that is so typical of traditionally seafaring Chinese communities of Fukien, Canton, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia.

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Photography © Quintin Lake, 2010