Cao Dai Holy See - Cao Dai Temple (Tay Ninh, Vietnam)
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- Vietnam Travel Guide
The Holy See of Cao Dai, which can be considered as the headquarters Vatican in Christianity, occupies an area of 100 hectares. The whole complex is surrounded by a fence that protects the complex, with 12 gates. The largest of all door is normally closed and only opens to make way for leaders and public personalities.
The Temple of Tay Ninh, called Toa Thanh or Divine Temple, is the largest of all the churches Caodistas. Begun in 1927 and opened in 1955 after many years of construction due to delays caused by financial and political problems. The Cao Dai Temple is a curious and unique architecture building, mixture of Asian and European architectures, where what most noteworthy of its exterior are its vivid colors and shapes of roofs.
Prayers are conducted four times daily in the Great Temple (suspended during Tet). It’s worth visiting during prayer sessions (the one at noon is most popular with tour groups from HCMC) but don’t disturb the worshippers. Only a few hundred adherents, dressed in splendid garments, participate in weekday prayers but during festivals several thousand may attend.
Watching Caodiasts pray is one of the major highlights when visiting the temple as they dress in long flowing robes of white for lay followers, yellow, blue or red for priests whilst bishops have the Divine Eye embroidered on their headpieces. During worship men are seated on the right and women on the left with all devotees seated in orderly rows. The building is a combination of Neo-Gothic, Baroque and Oriental design and is very ornately decorated including dragon wrapped pillars, seven-headed cobras and ceilings of sky blue.
The Cao Dai clergy have no objection to visitors photographing temple objects, but do not photograph people without their permission, which is seldom granted. However, it is possible to photograph the prayer sessions from the upstairs balcony, an apparent concession to the troops of tourists who come here daily. It’s important that guests wear modest and respectful attire inside the temple, which means no shorts or sleeveless T-shirts.
Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Address: 5km southeast of Tay Ninh City
More information: Founded in 1926
Opening hours: 8:00AM - 5PM
Entrance fee: Free
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