One place that we found especially interesting along the way was the Temple of Po Nagar. First a bit of history…….. Cham people are remnants of the Kingdom of Champa (7th to 18th centuries) It’s kingdoms prosperity came from maritime trade in sandalwood and slaves and probably included piracy. The Cham ruled Vietnam for 10 centuries, their unmistakable architecture and art style had spread widely across places in the country. They are said to have their root in the India’s Buddhism. Thus, there are a great deal of similarity between Angkor Wat and the Po Nagar Towers found in Nha Trang.
The Cham were matrilineal and inheritance passed through the mother.. which I thought was Super! Due to this, the Vietnamese in 1499 enacted a law banning marriage between Cham women and all Vietnamese males, regardless of class. The Vietnamese also issued instructions in the capital to kill all Chams within the vicinity. (not so super!)
The Cham shielded and always observed their girls attentively, placing great importance on their virginity. A Cham saying said
“As well leave a man alone with a girl, as an elephant in a field of sugarcane.” (Well that says it all! Lol!)
What was really interesting was what the guide then shared…….that one of the main purposes the temple served was for people to pray for fertility. The very structure of the temple itself represented the (and I quote ;) “the back part symbolizes the stout, strong way of the peanuts…….and the front is the entrance of the pu–zee!” (as you can clearly see from the photo—-!?!)
Our dear guide went on to explain that one must vigorously rub the corresponding part of the altar (either the “peanuts or the pu-zee” =which was said with the straightest of faces and sincerest of intent) …….. and then do the same to oneself to pass the fertility energy directly from the gods to you!!!
Suffice to say I probably offended every God there with my peals of barely muffled laughter!!! (oops!)