The first Vietnamese Pagoda
As soon as Vietnamese people arrived in Thailand over 200 years ago, the first Vietnamese pagodas were built. These Vietnamese pagodas enjoyed supports from the monarch of Siam, especially Kings Rama III, Rama IV and Rama V.
Since then, the traditional Vietnamese Buddhism started to develop in the Kingdom of Thailand, a country where Buddhism was recognized the state religion and followed by approximately 94% of the total population.
The traditional Buddhism
In 1889, over 100 years after being brought to Thailand, the Buddhist tradition practiced by Vietnamese in the country was officially recognized and named as “Annamnikaya” by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) as one of Buddhist sects of Thailand. Thai Kings themselves gave names to and appointed abbots of these Vietnamese-built pagodas, and Annamnikaya became one of the only two Buddhist sects brought from other countries in the kingdom.
According to Vietnamese Ambassador to Thái Lan Nguyễn Tất Thành, most of Vietnamese pagodas in Thailand were built in the 19th century and during 1960s and 1970s.
Although Thai Theravada Buddhism has many different features from the Mahayana Buddhist tradition practiced by Vietnamese, many Thai people frequently visit Vietnamese pagodas in the country. In particular, Princess of Thailand Maha Chakri Sirindhorn always supports the upgrade of these pagodas and preservation of Vietnamese cultural characteristics in the pagodas, including the attachment of nameplates in Vietnamese. For her, Vietnamese-built pagodas officially become part of Thai Buddhism, however these pagodas have distinctive features and contribute to enrich Buddhism in the host country.
Celebrating 40 years of diplomatic
According to the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand, given support from Thai authorities on occasion of celebrating 40 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries (1976 – 2016), six Vietnamese pagodas in Thailand attached the plates of Vietnamese names to these pagodas, in addition to Thai names.
Pho Phuoc and Tu Te pagodas in Bangkok, two long-standing pagodas of Vietnamese people in Thailand, were fitted with plates bearing their Vietnamese names on August 21st. Tu Te pagoda is the place President Ho Chi Minh did revolutionary activities in the Kingdom of Thailand in the early 20th century. This pagoda attracted many Vietnamese tourists when they came to Thailand. While Pho Phuoc pagoda, also called Pho Phuoc Sangha Institute, is home to the headquarters of Annamnikaya. The event at Pho Phuoc pagoda saw the attendance of the head monk at Pho Phuoc Pagoda Thich Kinh Chieu, the Charge d’affaires of Vietnam’s Embassy in Thailand Phạm Thành Nam, and Head of Bangkok’s disctric Manat Prachuap Jinda.
Khanh Tho pagoda in Thailand’s western province of Kanchanaburi, regarded as the center of Annamnikaya in the country, was attached with its Vietnamese nameplate at a solemn ceremony held on June 29. The pagoda was constructed in 1834 with permission from King Phra Nangklao Chaoyuhua (Kinh Rama III) and named Thavorn Wararam in 1896 by King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V). His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Her Majesty Queen Regent Sirikit, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Princes Chulabhorn Walailak paid a visit to the pagoda in 1973. Speaking at the ceremony for attaching the Vietnamese nameplate to the pagoda, Vice Governor of Kanchanaburi province Bunyaphan Chanthanauray said the move is a meaningful activity marking the 70th Anniversary of Accession to the Throne of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and makes the pagoda become more popular among Buddhists and tourists. He also hailed remarkable contributions of Vietnamese residing in the province to the promotion of cultural values of Buddhism in the host community. .
Long Son Pagoda in Kanchanaburi province also attached its plate bearing the Vietnamese name on June 29. The pagoda was built in 1883 with permission of King Chulalongkorn. This Buddhist temple has been classified as “the model temple” for three consecutive years of 1993, 1994 and 1995. In addition, Princes of Thailand Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presented to the pagoda a title honoring its effort in environmental protection in 1995. Especially, on occasion of opening the Vietnamese Culture Days in Thailand as part of events celebrating the 40th anniversary of Vietnam-Thailand diplomatic ties (1976-2016), Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam and Governor of Bangkok Sukhumbhand on August 11 attached a Vietnamese nameplate for Khanh Van (U Phai Rat Bamrung) pagoda, which was built by overseas Vietnamese in Thailand in the 18th century.
So far, according to Vietnamese Ambassador to Thailand Nguyễn Tất Thành, 21 Vietnamese pagodas in Thailand have been officially recognized, and seven out of these pagodas have been fitted with their Vietnamese nameplates. The recognition of two more pagodas in Mukdahan and Sakaeo are also under consideration.
Vietnamese pagodas are places where overseas Vietnamese people exchange and meet each other, especially during Lunar New Year Festivals and annual Buddhist cultural events, such as Vu Lan (Buddhist Parents’ Day) Festival.
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Vietnamese pagodas are places where overseas Vietnamese people exchange and meet each other, especially during Lunar New Year Festivals and annual Buddhist cultural events, such as Vu Lan (Buddhist Parents’ Day) Festival. In particular, Khanh An pagoda in the northeastern province of Udon Thani has become a venue for frequent cultural activities by overseas Vietnamese, hosted ceremonies to pray for peace for fallen soldiers and organized classes to teach Vietnamese language to children of overseas Vietnamese. The pagoda was attached its Vietnamese nameplate in February 2016.
Assistance by Thai authorities extended to pagodas built by overseas Vietnamese in the country has demonstrated the respect and development support for Buddhism in the kingdom of Thailand, as well as practically met cultural, spiritual needs of Vietnamese communities and contributed to promote cultural exchange and diplomatic tie between Vietnam and Thailand.
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