The Xa Loi Pagoda’s construction started on August 5, 1956 in accordance with plans drawn by architects Tran Van Duong and Do Ba Vinh but the directing engineers is Du Ngoc Anh and Ho To Thuan. The pagoda opened on May 2. 1981. The pagoda was built to worship relics of Buddha so its first name was Relics Worship Pagoda but people here called in short name Xa Loi pagoda. It is reason why when inaugurating the temple, the monk Khanh Anh named it Xa Loi (relics of Buddha). The pagoda served as the headquarters of the Vietnamese Buddhist Association until 1981, and as its second office until May 1993.
The pagoda is best known for the raids, in which the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces loyal to Ngô Đình Nhu, the brother of the Roman Catholic President Ngô Đình Diệm, raided and vandalized Buddhist monasteries and pagodas on 21 August 1963.
The pagoda worships a large statue of Buddha Thich Ca made by the Bien Hoa fine art school. In 1969, the statue’s body was covered by golden sheaves as nowadays. In front of the statue is a small tower worshipping relics of Buddha. The main hall was decorated with a large painting consisting of 15 paintings performed by Professor Nguyen Van Long of Gia Dinh Fine Arts School, he depicted the history of Buddha Shakyamuni since birth until he reaches the state of nirvana.
The Xa Loi Pagoda’s bell tower was inaugurated in 1961. The bell tower has 32 meters high, consists of 7 floors, and is the Vietnam’s highest bell tower. Top floor has hung a 2-ton big bell, which was cast in the model of the bell of Thiên Mụ Pagoda in Hue.
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