| On Friday evening, worshippers gathered at Vien Giac Pagoda, located at 193 Bui Thi Xuan Street, Tan Binh District, to pray for a peaceful year. |
After the Ky An ceremony was reported to HCMC People’s Committee, on Saturday morning the pagoda was required to suspend all activities until further notice.
| The pagoda had required all participants to wear face masks, have their temperature screened and their hand sanitized (pictured). However, it violated the city's rules which ban religious rituals and other activities at religious sites that gather 20 people or more. |
The city authority's order also stipulated that from Feb. 9, all entertainment and sports activities, spa and massage parlors, karaokes, night clubs, bars and pubs, gaming centers, banquet halls, cinemas, theaters, gymnasiums, yoga classes, and billiard clubs must be suspended.
Nguyen Thanh Phong, Chairman of HCMC People’s Committee, said there would be no exemption when it came to violating the rules, especially events that involved a mass of people.
| At the ceremony, devotees lined up in the courtyard, main hall, on the stairs and in corridors, though keeping a certain distance from each other. |
The ritual officially began at 6:00 p.m. By this time, many other devotees who could not enter had to offer their prayers in front of the entrance, standing closely packed.
Vien Giac, built in 1955, was expanded to an area of 3,000 square meters in 2001, boasting the highest tower made of Vietnam ceramics in the country.
The ritual peaked as pilgrims performed the act of placing scripts on their head en masse for about 20 minutes.
Pagoda staff burned a religious petition letter in a big incense holder as a symbolic act on everyone’s behalf.
A monk distributed gifts to devotees by hand to mark an end to the two-hour ceremony.