I have never heard of this place of worship before, or even this pan-religion of sorts. And I never knew this kind of religion existed either, and it sure piqued my curiosity..
This religion is intriguing…
The priests wearing blue (Taoism), yellow (Buddhism) and red (Confucianism). Who wear pure white are the worshipers or followers. There are nine hierarchies of worship including a pope, cardinals and an archbishop.
We had to remove our shoes, and go in separate entrances for men and women. Then we were allowed to be shown around the temple by our guide.
There are lookouts posted on both corners making sure no tourists walk in front of the temple during this time.
From there, we were sent upstairs to watch from above, although it was crowded with other tourists, so it was hard to get a good view. It was all very new to me. We were also briefed on the history of this temple and this unique religion.
Cao_Dai ( Caodaism or Caodaiism) was founded by Ngô Văn Chiêu (1878 – 1932). It grew rapidly in the decade following its establishment as a church in 1926, a religion that blends elements of Christianity, Buddhism , Taoism, Confucianism and Islam. A monotheistic religion officially established in the city of Tây Ninh, southern Vietnam. And it was granted legal recognition in 1997. The Cao Dai Temple was finished in 1955 when the Cao Dai Army was formed following the Japanese occupation of Indochina. In modern Vietnam, Cao Dai has regained some of its autonomy and has been recognized as an official religion in Vietnam, as well as having spread into Vietnamese communities in Australia and North America.
Our Tour Guide explained a lot about the ‘Eye’. God represented by Divine Eye. The main focal point is a Divine Eye symbolizing God which has the Ying and Yang icon in its pupil.
They said the universe could not yet be formed because God controlled only Yang. Therefore, God shed a part of himself and created the Goddess, who is the master of Yin. In the presence of Yin and Yang, the universe materialized.
During worship, men are seated on the right and women on the left, with all devotees seated in orderly rows.
We were lucky to visit during a service and witness the choir singing (I learned that the female members of the choir are celibate and are not allowed to marry).
[chanting] Prayer ceremonies are held in temples at 6 a.m., at noon, at 6 p.m., and midnight daily. Offerings of incense, tea, and food are made on the altar, just as is performed in traditional Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhism and Taoism.
Give due respect by not making too much noise when the service is ongoing.
You will see how the disciples are very sincere and devout towards their religion.
You have to queue to go up some narrow stairs to the upstairs gallery to view the service from upstairs. Make sure you take a look, you can really appreciate the architecture and designs of the temple from this view point. The temple is in 9 sections, while inside there are 9 upper balcony sections and 9 pillars down each side. All in magnificent colours including the dragon heads on the pillars. It’s a great vantage point to soak up the size of the temple and the many people attending the ceremony.
The floor, the roof, the columns and the high altar are full of colorful patterns, each are symbolic.
At the balcony area, which again is a great spot to take in the views and snap a few pics.
The vibrant interior design is said to represent the 3 beliefs of the religion. Buddhism, Taoism & Confucianism.
The Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad and Confucius, with the addition to Joan of Arc and Julius Cesar are all honored at this temple.
Just make sure that you are there in time for their daily prayer ceremony. Regardless of your beliefs, it is a fascinating thing to witness. It was a marvelous sight to behold, the unification of the truths of religion to form a vision of peace.
The largest of the seven chairs in front of the globe is reserved for the Cao Dai pope, a position that has remained vacant since 1933. The next three chairs are for the three men responsible for the religion’s law books. The remaining three chairs are for the leaders.
Take time to walk the grounds and see the herb gardens, monuments, living quarters and school.
The temple is something a bit like a Catholic cathedral, with Buddhist pagodas on the tower tops. And the whole building is painted in the most amazing colors inside and out. Surrounding the building is a massive square complex and “parade ground” as well as some lovely gardens.
It’s about a 2 1/2 drive from Ho Chi Minh city. It is indigenous to the area in that it is only found in South Vietnam. There are 3 million followers to date. They believe God gave them a mission of restoring peace on earth.A mysterious religious mix, worth reading about.
I came to this place with no knowledge about it beforehand and no expectations, so the experience was a complete surprise. Weaving together the world’s major religions into one philosophy is a brilliant concept that Cao Dai has embraced. It was interesting to find a different kind of religion and observe and experience their devotion.
You’ve got to visit to find out why and what every symbol represents. This religion is one of a kind, uniquely standing out among the main few religion of the world. It is comprised of and borrows certain beliefs and attributes from Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and Confucianism.
I won’t say that this temple is a MUST VISIT because not every traveler might be interested in exploring such a religion that is not mainstream and so unorthodox. But this temple and their ceremonies were remarkable and uniquely Vietnamese. Since it’s part of the tour as a full day option, why not?
It’s an amazing experience!
Cao Dai Temple :
Address: Long Thanh Bac Commune | Hoa Thanh District, Tay Ninh 730000, Vietnam
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