Visiting An Dien village in Cong Hoa commune, Hai Duong province's Nam Sach district, tourists will encounter a quiet ancient pagoda right at the entrance of the village.
Present-day An Dien pagoda
An Dien pagoda, whose Sino-Vietnamese name is Kim Lo, was built a long time ago. According to a copy of a stele carved in the 5th Chinh Hoa year (1684) kept at the Institute of Sino-Nom Studies and translated by historian Tang Ba Hoanh on January 3, 2015, the pagoda was restored in Nham Dan year (1662).
At that time, village chief Nguyen Huu Dieu and villagers hired laborers to turn the central chamber, corridors, back house, and three-door gate into durable and beautiful works in the region, worthy of being a sightseeing destination of tourists.
The stele records more than 100 people in the commune as well as visitors, including those from Kinh Mon, Kim Thanh, etc., making donations. After 1945, the stele was lost.
Because of the US Air Force's raids on the North, the pagoda was completely destroyed. In 1995, for locals' wish, An Dien villagers rebuilt the pagoda in the shape of Chinese character ding (丁), including a five-compartment front chamber and a three-compartment central chamber, next to the communal house of the village.
In 2015, natives made donations to rebuild 10 compartments of the pagoda largely and beautifully on the old sacred land about 100 m to the east of the communal house.
At present, the pagoda has an er (二) shape with 10 compartments on an area of about 3,200 m2 and a multitier roof. The communal house is 300 m2 in area and made of wood-imitated reinforced concrete.
To the right of the pagoda is an Avalokitesvara gazebo made of stone-imitated cement. From the entrance to the pagoda is a traditionally-designed stone bridge across a wide lake in front of the door, forming an airy and poetic scene.
"According to elderly people, during the resistance war against French colonials, Kim Lo pagoda was a place of revolutionary activities in Nam Sach district," said Hoang Thi Dao, head of the pagoda's board for internal affairs.
"Around 1945 - 1946, monk Nguyen Xuan Them at the pagoda also engaged in revolutionary activities. The French colonials arrested and took him from the pagoda to Chi Dien post to shoot him dead with seven revolutionists on the 11th day of the 10th lunar month, 1946.
"To commemorate and express gratitude to the revolutionary soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the peace of the land and the country, the monk was one of those posthumously honored as martyrs by the State.
"On the 11th day of every 10th lunar month, villagers organize a ceremony to mark the death anniversary of monk Them and the revolutionists at the pagoda."
Every year, Buddhist rituals such as Mother Goddess's death anniversary (March 3), January's full-moon, Vesak, July's full-moon, and Father's death anniversary (August 20) are organized at the pagoda.
On these days, numerous villagers and natives from everywhere flock to the pagoda for worshipping. Not only praying for blessings for their families, they also sincerely donate money to together with the pagoda participate in charity activities like helping poor and sick people, preventing and controlling epidemics, etc.
An Dien pagoda really is a place to entrust spirit, educate morals, and bring into play cultural traditions left by ancestors.