Out of Saigon - Cao Dai Temple, Ho Chi Minh City
The capital of the same-named province, Tay Ninh is situated 95km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City and is the original home of the Cao Dai religion which has around 3 million adherents in Southern Vietnam. Tay Ninh is home to the Cao Dai Great Temple, built between 1933 and 1955, which sits a few kilometres outside of the town.
A rather garish meld of styles and influences, the temple is dominated by the divine eye which is the religion's representation of God - for those who are curious, it's a left eye. The temple is done out in hues of pink and baby blues, with a brilliant interior bedecked with eight grandiose pillars wrapped with writhing dragons, and a clouded pastel blue sky that wouldn't be out of place in a Vegas casino - you really have to see the place to believe it! The faith has built temples all over the region, especially in the Mekong Delta, but this is the biggest, brightest and the best. I went on a tour with the Sinh Cafe whose offices are in the Pham Ngu Lao backpackers area of Ho Chi Minh City and it cost me 136,000 VND (about $8 includes lunch) which also included a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels in the afternoon. The tour visits the temple in order to witness the mid-day mass.
For more information, pictures and video of the mid-day mass, why not visit my Tay Ninh page below:
The title was not meant to be anything derogatory, but the Viet Congs were much feared by the Amercian soldiers as they did not know where the Viets would be and after a swift attack, where they'd dissappear to.
This was a massive problem for the Amercians as the Viet Cong was just at the backyard of Saigon. Located at Cu Chi (Pronounced as Ku Chee), the tunnels stretched for kilometres and the thing the makes me shake my head in amazement was the fact that the Viet Congs were such a hardy group of people.
I walked through the tunnel for just a couple of minutes and I was already wondering when I'd be out of it. Can you imagine the Vietnamese people living in the tunnel structure for years?
Worth taking a walk, I mean crawl through the tunnel. You might like to fit into the little hole as well. I have a size 32 waist and it just fitted nicely with not much room for maneuvouring.
Entry Fee: 70,000VND
There were quite a number of older folks within the congregation. But there were also the young ones that were raising their voices and music to their Gods. What caught my eye was this little boy that was barely 10 years of age but was already in their musical instrument team.
The Magnificant Cao Dai See Temple is located in the Tay Ninh Province and what wows me was the large area of the temple ground. The roads looked clean and well maintained. The building looked a little "old school" but definitely outstanding with it's unique architecture, bright colours and a ceiling with painting that try to replicate the sky.
Cao Daism is all about bringing together the world's religion. Both the temple and the priests and priestess were decked in very warm colours. Among the worshippers, those wearing Yellow represented Buddhism, Red represented Confucianism, and Blue represented Taoism.
The Cao Dai Temple experience is a bit touristy but at the same time its a brilliant display of color in a religious ceremony that little is known about. Also it was strange to see many temples that had swastikas on them. Someone told me that the symbol meant fertility but who knows. You will find yourself get a little upset however if you are a person who believes strongly in respecting other's cultures because you will find that the many tourists during the temple ceremony are loud and rude.
Prayers are conducted every 6 hours starting at midnight. Women enter the temple from the left, walk clockwise around the hall, then congregate on the left side for worship. Conversely, men enter from the right and walk counter-clockwise. Both genders give offerings that range from the conventional incense, fruit and flowers to more unusual gifts of tea and alcohol.
Location : Cao Dai Temple, Tay Ninh
Different garments and headwear represent different ranks in the religion. Its truly an amazing sight, viewed from a balcony above the proceedings. Tourist and Caodaists alike usually crowd the ceremonies.
Location: Cao Dai Temple, Tay Ninh
The town of Tay Ninh, some 100 kms northwest of Saigon, is the centre of the Cao Dai religion. This religion incorporates elements of Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam and possibly a number of other religions. The religion worships as saints such people as Sir Winston Churchill, Moses, Victor Hugo (French author) and more. The religion was founded in the 1920’s by a Vietnamese Government official.
You can go to the Great Cao Dai Cathedral (a pastel yellow, pink and blue building) and watch the mass which is held at noon every day.