Cao Dai is a ‘home-grown’ religion based mostly in the South of Vietnam. Its centre of operations is the Cao Dai Holy See, in Tay Ninh, about 100km from Ho Chi Minh City. It is a large complex containing a school, an agricultural co-operative, a hospital and other useful buildings, all dominated by a big and highly ornate temple.


The founding father of Caodaism


The sect was based by Ngo Van Chieu, a minor civil servant from Phu Quoc Island, who skilled a series of visions revealing the ‘Supreme Being’s’ wishes, the centerpiece of which was the creation of an all-embracing faith incorporating elements of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity and Islam.


The Structure of Cao Dai


The construction was primarily based upon that of the Catholic Church, with Ngo Van Chieu as the first Cao Dai Pope, and the rituals upon those of Buddhism and Taoism.


Cao Dai additionally has an attention-grabbing vary of ‘saints’, together with Victor Hugo, William Shakespeare, Louis Pasteur, Napoleon Bonaparte, Joan of Arc, Winston Churchill, Lenin, and Chun Yet Sen, the pioneer of the Chinese Revolution, along with several Vietnamese figures akin to Tran Hung Dao and Le Loi.


Cao Dai beliefs


The Supreme Being of Cao Dai has made three manifestations in human form. The first was in historic times when it appeared within the particular person of assorted

Figures from the traditional texts of Christianity, Buddhism and Taoism. On the second event, it manifested itself as Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Confucius and different divine figures. The newest manifestation involved communication with go Van Chieu as the divine light, symbolized because the all-seeing eye.


The development of Caodaism


Caodaism grew rapidly, and was formally recognised by the French in 1926. It continued to grow in numbers and affect, and by the fifties, the Holy See had turn into semi-autonomous, with a whole bunch of temples all through the south of Vietnam. Its large paramilitary pressure and political affect alarmed both the French and the Viet Cong.


Upon gaining power, the President of the Saigon regime, the pro-Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem, moved swiftly to disband the Cao Dai military and exile its leaders. When the communists took over in 1975, they closed the temples, confiscated the land and dispatched the priests for‘re-schooling’.


However, the religion survived and the temples had been returned by the federal government within the late eighties and allowed to re-open. Since then, the numbers of Cao Dai followers have grown, and its temples are functioning more or less freely, but underneath tight authority’s control.


The temples


Cao Dai temples are widespread everywhere in the south, but significantly in the Mekong Delta. For visitors, the place to go to is the primary temple at the Holy See. Its architecture is as motley as its credo and liturgy, a riot of Colour and symbols. The all-seeing eye is the centerpiece of every of the stained glass windows, and, behind the altar and mounted on an enormous duplicate of the earth, dominates the interior.


The ceremony


The each day noon ceremony of worship is a mix of Christian and Buddhist ritual, lasting about half an hour. During companies, the clergymen, acolytes and worshippers type up in rows in one of three branches distinguished by the Colour of the robes, yellow for Buddhists, blue for Taoists and purple for the Confucian branch. Other devotees put on white.


The rites are advanced, however very fascinating, and the constructing is an attraction in its personal right. However, to keep away from falling foul of the authorities Cao Dai followers will not be forthcoming about their exceptional faith, and no explanatory materials is available.


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