Cao Dai Religion in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog

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The Cao Dai Temple
Among the strangest belief systems on the face of the earth is the nationalistic syncretism of Vietnam's Cao Dai sect.

Cao Dai (pronounced "Cow Die") didn't exist a century ago. Its beginnings date back to the 1920's when a provencial official for the French colonial government in southern Vietnam claimed to have heard from God in a séance in 1926. On September 26 the official, Ngo Van Chieu, founded the Cao Dai religion with the help of 247 disciples. Today visitors to the Great Temple, Tay Ninh Cao Dai Cathedral in Tay Ninh (about 60 miles northwest of Ho Chi Minh City), can watch the chanting ceremony take place four times a day. The cathedral is about 460 feet long by about 130 feet wide.

The amazing architecture inside the temple. It resembled icing or meringue in places.
The inside looks a great deal like a traditional Catholic cathedral that someone let dragons loose in and then painted blue and red. The ceiling is domed and decorated with large stars.

Explaining Cao Dai beliefs is not easy. The religion is said to have combined elements of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Taoism. But at the heart of the religion is the duty of individual followers to their family and society -- a very Confucian theme. The concept of Karma and a detachment from the material world are both borrowed from Buddhism. Elements of Vietnam's prehistoric religions are also absorbed into Cao Dai beliefs.

The religion's eight million or so followers are governed by a church structure similar to that of Catholicism -- complete with a pope, cardinals, bishops, priests and other offices. And there are saints, including Joan of Arc, Lenin, Shakespeare, Chinese nationalist Sun Yatsen, and French poet Victor Hugo.

Only about 30,000 people outside Vietnam follow Cao Dai beliefs.

If you're looking for a day trip from HCMC, the Cao Dai Cathedral is an interesting excursion.

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The Cao Dai Temple
The Cao Dai Temple
The amazing architecture inside th…
The amazing architecture inside t…
The band.
The band.
The entrance to the Temple
The entrance to the Temple
The Temple i all its glory. Its …
The Temple i all it's glory. It's…
one of the windows in the Temple
one of the windows in the Temple
The floor area of the Temple befor…
The floor area of the Temple befo…
another picture of the interior.
another picture of the interior.
One of the Senior followers.
One of the Senior followers.
The eye on the pillar is the symbo…
The eye on the pillar is the symb…
The colours represent the various …
The colours represent the various…
Followere of the religion in their…
Followere of the religion in thei…
During the ceremony.
During the ceremony.
The eye is quite promnent on the b…
The eye is quite promnent on the …
The ceremony in progress.
The ceremony in progress.
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