Why Cao Dai Temple is special
Founded in Vietnam in the early 1920s, Cao Dai is based on the main religions of the East and West and takes as its saints characters from different cultures, such as Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo, Shakespeare and Lenin. Today the religion has approximately 1.5 million followers. The temple in Da Nang, the second largest in the country, houses representations of the Divine Eye, the emblem of the doctrine, as well as the founders of Islam, Christianity, Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism.
Caodaists believe that all religions are ultimately the same and seek to promote tolerance throughout the world.
Worshippers at the Cao Dai Temple strive for world peace and harmony with beliefs steeped in a number of world religions. Followers must obey the five virtues of Confucianism – humanity, obligation, civility, knowledge and reliability and have belief in the Buddhist principles of rebirth and karma.
Watching Caodaists 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.
What to explore at Cao Dai Temple
It’s simple from the outside, and an inattentive passerby could easily miss it. Try to take a peek inside though. The most colourful time to visit is when noon prayer is taking place, but do be respectful and wait until prayers have finished. Once completed you are welcome to wander inside to check out the interesting interior, decorated with typical Cao Dai ornamentation. Note the globe at the rear of the interior holding the all seeing eye.
A sign reading Van Giao Nhat Ly (all religions have the same reason) hangs from the ceiling in front of the main altar. Behind the gilded letters is a picture of the founders of five of the world’s great religions: Mohammed, Laotse (wearing Eastern Orthodox–style robes), Jesus, a Southeast Asian–looking Buddha and Confucius (looking as Chinese as could be).
Behind the main altar sits an enormous globe with the Cao Dai ‘divine eye’ symbol on it. As with all Cao Dai temples, prayers are held four times a day, at 00h00, 06h00, 12h00 and 18h00
Getting to Cao Dai Temple
From Da Nang international airport: 4 km away, go by motorbike or bicycle
From Da Nang train station: 1 km away, go by motorbike or bicycle
From Hoi An ancient town: 31 km away, go by taxi or bus