Cao Dai Temple

Trip Start Nov 08, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

We went on a fascinating tour of the Cao Dai Holy See in Tay Ninh, near Saigon.  It's the center of a unique, syncretistic Vietnamese religion.  It's fusion cuisine for the religious palate.  They've essentially taken pieces of several major world religions (Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism) and combined them to form an incredibly colorful (literally) tapestry of faith and dogma.  The church itself is incredible.  It is built on a monumental scale and is a bazaar cathedral housing elaborate decorations, the most prominent of which is a giant eye dominating the main altar.

Their Saints include: Sun Yat-sen (the Chinese revolutionary and political leader), Victor Hugo (you know...Victor Hugo), and Nguyen Binh Khiem (Vietnamese administrator, educator, and poet).  And they didn't forget everybody's favorite carpenter.  Jesus is considered an enlightened Buddha and is also revered.

They've imitated the Catholic Church, not in a predilection for depicting their deities nailed to the woodwork, but in their governmental structure.  They have a pope, cardinals, bishops, and priests.

They welcome visitors and are surprisingly tolerant of gawking tourists.  The place was fascinating, the music was incredible, and it was what all religious services are, but rarely embrace - meditation, celebration, and communion, but above all, an incredible show.

Enjoy the photos, and there are 3 videos as well.
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