Cao Dai temple is home to the Cao Dai religion, also known as Caodaism, which is a fusion of beliefs from Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam. The religion started in1926 and had approximately 4.4 million adherents of the belief system denounce materialism and practice the Karmic law of rebirth. The temple attracts pilgrims to visit by the bright colors and fascinating rituals.
History of Cao Dai Religion
The founder of Cao Dai Religion was Ngo Van Chien, a Vietnamese, who worked for the French administration. Cao Dai is literally translated as A Top Place. The religion has distributed 5 million adherents by Vietnam, Europe, and the US. Its symbol is an eye inside a triangle (the triangle is the triangle of justice).
The saints’ pantheon of Cao Dai consists of the diverse figures as the Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Pericles, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo, and the Chinese revolutionary leader – Sun Yat. These are all honored at the temple.
Cao Dai Temple History
The temple was constructed between 1933 and 1955, the Great Temple of Cao Dai resembles a Christian cathedral in the architecture. They are two square towers, along central nave with an upper gallery, and side aisles. Both the altar and the ambulatory are at the opposite end from the entrance, it looks like a typical church.
The Caodaist is headquartered in Hoa Thanh, a district of Tay Ninh province. It’s about 90 km Northwest of Saigon and it’s approximately 55 km to get Cu Chi Tunnels. Cao Dai temple is visible from almost any part of the complex, and it is located about 150 meters from the main entrance.
Things to Do & See in Cao Dai Temple
We have already heard that “When in Rome do as the Romans do”, especially in a religious place like Cao Dai, there has a myriad of things to know before going.
What You Should Wear When Visiting The Temple
Most worshippers wear pure white robes while men with the rank of priest and higher have brightly colored robes reflecting their own spiritual allegiance. The robes are one of three colors: yellow (symbolizing Buddhism and their virtue), blue (symbolizing Taoism and pacifism), or red (Confucianism and authority). Both the bishops and cardinals have the Divine Eye (representing God) which is emblazoned on their headpieces.
Visitors are asked to wear trousers or skirts which can cover the knees. Do not forget to remove your hats, coats, and your shoes before stepping inside the temple. Although there is no rule of dress, try to wear as formal as possible.
What to Do in Cao Dai Temple
Cao Dai Temple is the ideal place for those who love exploring the religious places. First of all, the exterior and interior of the temple are extravagantly decorated with the combination of symbols, abstract designs, and images of saints. The ceiling of the temple is painted like the sky with fluffy clouds, and the floor tiles own many abstract patterns. The dragon-encrusted columns running along the length of the nave number 28, represent for the 28 manifestations of the Buddha. The image of seven-headed cobras symbolizes for the seven emotions of people.
In Cao Dai temple, there stand 9 hierarchies of worship consisting of a pope, cardinals, archbishops, priests, and so forth who have the responsibility in guarantee about doing rituals, festivals and prayer regularly practiced. Cao Dai temple has the same design with a Christian Cathedral, prominently features side aisles and an altar. From the far distance, your eyebrows will also be raised by a high dome decorated with both clouds and saints.
The temple has four ceremonies with chanting each day: 6:00 am, noon, 6:00 pm, and midnight. In praying and singing hymns performance, there is an orchestra of 10 musicians and a choir of 20 youths. However, one of the most memorable sights at the Temple is the flow of worshippers dressing in flowing robes and gathering in orderly rows during the ceremony, and men always sit on the right, women sit on the left.
How to Experience the Best of Cao Dai Temple
If you are interested in the religious land as Cao Dai temple and still wonder how to experience, please kindly contact Saigon Local Tour via email: [email protected] or hotline +84 909 896286. We are willing to help as your require comes!
How to Get Cao Dai Temple
The only way to get to Cao Dai temple is generally by road. It is only 90 kilometers from the center of Saigon, thus it takes 2 hours to get the temple.
You can get Cao Dai temple in Van or tourist bus from Ho Chi Minh city. It’s easy to purchase tickets in any travel agency in the area of backpackers from Saigon (the area of Tham street, Tran Hung Dao Street, and surroundings).
For those who dare to ride a motorbike, they have to know that the only secure parking in Cao Dai Temple is just for the faithful, not allowing tourists to park here.
Another way is using the regular bus line, especially the bus 702 departs from the bus station in Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City to Tay Ninh. Also, the bus 13 to Cu Chi Tunnels can be seen as an alternative, and from there, take one of the many buses to get Tay Ninh.