Ruong Lon Pagoda in the southern province of Dong Nai has an entrance created out of bamboo unlike any other pagoda.
Also known as Hien Mat Pagoda, it is in Long Khanh Town and adheres to Pure Land Buddhism. This branch of Buddhism is characterized by the teachings of Amida Buddha, the Buddha of Infinite Light. The pagoda attracts many pilgrims.
A small bridge created entirely out of bamboo crosses over a stream at the entrance, and its railings and arch are all made of bamboo, making it stand out from other pagodas in Vietnam. On both sides of the gate are sal trees, which are associated with the symbol of the Buddha.
In Buddhism in Vietnam, bamboo trees growing in lumps symbolize the gathering of believers. Having one bamboo node after another resembles a ladder to the sky.
According to the monks there, before the pagoda was built, the path leading to its location had many large bamboo fields, which inspired the creation of the gate.
At the top of the pagoda gate is an idol of a Bodhisattva sitting on a lotus throne, surrounded by apricot and sal trees.
On entering the gate, two bell towers set in concrete pillars come into view. At their top are two bottle gourds representing vases of fairy wine for the bodhisattvas.
Behind the two towers is the octagonal-shaped main hall with red tiles in the middle of a large garden. The pagoda monks said the octagon represents the eight-fold path leading to liberation from human suffering.
The main hall is about 30 square meters with small idols and paintings of bodhisattvas.
Hien Mat Pagoda has no stupas or large idols like other pagodas in Vietnam. It sits on a large lush area with many gardens that represent Buddhist concepts. One of them is the deer garden, which represents the place where the Buddha gave his first sermon under the Bodhi tree.
This pond recreates the Anoma River in southern Nepal, where the Buddha cut his hair and turned ascetic.
An idol with porcelain pieces. There are a few that look like this out of the many idols in various shapes and sizes.
The pagoda also has many rocks. According to the monks here, the rocks were mainly found and donated by local farmers. Some were given as donations by Buddhists from other regions.
Work on the 10,000 square meter pagoda complex, which sits next to rice fields, began in 1984, but it is not clear how long it took to finish.