Cao Dai Temple, about three hours away from Saigon.

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Cao Daism was ‘created’, ‘invented’, ‘discovered’ in the 1920s and is essentially a synthetic religion, as in it’s a synthesis of Confucianism, Christianity and Buddhism. It basically combines aspects of all these religions to make a new one.

Some of it seems a bit strange, for example believers think various people through history were ‘saints’ from different ages. These saints include Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, William Shakespeare, Joan of Arc and Napoleon Bonaparte! All the colours and patterns representing the joining of different belief systems, as do the colour robes the followers wear. Because of government control on religious expression here it was only formally recognised as a religion in 1997.

The photos might make you think ‘aw isn’t that quaint’ or ‘wow, how odd and strange that people can believe that’. But every religion was new once and is it really that much stranger than worshipping a man who is god, god’s son and a spirit? Or from praying to many armed gods or buddhas?

 

Inside the temple during mass.

On one of the balconies. So much open space in the compound, a rarity here!

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