Discover Cao Dai Temple - Ho Chi Minh
Cao Dai is considered holy land in Vietnam. About 60 miles northwest of the city of Ho Chi Minh is the tiny city of Tay Ninh, home to its largest homegrown religion, an indigenous faith that combines teachings from Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and even Christianity and Islam.
The temple was built in 1933 and is an example of how beauty can come from traditions blended. Among the list of Cao Dai saints are Western figures like Thomas Jefferson, William Shakespeare and Victor Hugo, as well as Joan of Arc of France and Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the republic of China. Here, they are treated with equal reverence as Buddha, and stand among dragons. The temple itself resembles a Christian cathedral on the outside and a pagoda on the inside, and is extravagantly decorated with ornate sculptures of the aforementioned dragons adorning its 28 columns (to represent the 28 manifestations of Buddha, as well as vaulted high ceilings and colorful artwork. There's also the Divine Eye: presented as a sphere within the temple, it is a reminder to those who believe in Cao Dai that God sees everything, everywhere, constantly.
Trip Guru encourages visitors to drop by, as well as witness and document any of the four ceremonies that take place every day, the first at 6:00 AM, then six hours later at noon, 6:00 PM, and midnight. Picture-taking is allowed from the galleries. Make sure you're attired appropriately when visiting: visitors are asked to wear trousers or skirts covering the knees, and will also be asked to remove their shoes upon entry and remain quiet during ceremonies. There is an orchestra composed of skilled musicians as well as a choir of youths that lead service in hymns and prayers. Worshippers dress in robes of white while priests can be identified by their colored robes, designated according to their allegiance: yellow for Buddhism, blue for Taoism, and red for Confucianism. Bishops and cardinals have the Divine Eye on their headpieces for easier identification.