One of the famous tourist destinations in Tay Ninh is Cao Dai Temple, the worshiping place of a religion originating in the country with its own unique architecture located on a 1.2 km wide campus.
Introduction of the temple
The Cao Dai Temple is a famous complex that was build between 1936 and 1955, in the middle of a garden, 5km east of Tay Ninh city, and about 100 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City.
The most interesting building in this complex is the Great Temple which was built according to the architectural requirements of the Cao Dai sect. The construction is a harmonious fusion of Asian and European styles, with domes and embellishments exemplifying the spirit of the religion.
Cao Dai Temple Highlights
- The first impression on visitors coming here is the “Thien Nhan”(Divine Eyes – representing God) believers that God witnesses everything, everywhere, constantly. At the temple, there are in total 50 Divine Eyes of five different shapes; each carrying a different meaning. The main area of Thien Nhan shrine is located on the realm of wisdom with 3,027 stars (representing 3,072 for stars). Visitors are not allowed to go in the middle of sightseeing, take pictures, but only look at the main hall from the two sides.
- The temple was built by Caodaism followers under the direct construction of the head spirit medium or Ho Phap (Defender of the Dharma). There was no detailed project drawn on paper, nor the participation of an architect, construction engineer or machine to help.
- Cao Dai is a new religion, incorporating many elements from major religions, including Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, Geniism. This religion even worshiped a number of modern politicians and writers, who believed to guide humanity into the way of the Third Amnesty. They are “Three Saints” including Sun Yat-Sen (the Chinese statesman and revolutionary leader), Victor Hugo (French poet and author), and Nguyen Binh Khiem ( Vietnamese administrator, educator, poet, sage).
- The main hall has 18 pillars divided into 2 sides, decorated with dragons, intricately carved. These pillars fit into the platform, divide the hall into nine sections, representing the nine steps to heaven, with each level marked by a pair of columns. Worshippers achieve each new level depending on their years as Cao Dai adherents.
- At the far end of the sanctuary, seven chairs in front of the Executive Body is reserved for the Pope; the next three chairs are for the three Censor Cardinals responsible for the religion’s law books. The remaining chairs are for the leaders of the three branches of Caodaism, represented by the colors yellow, blue, and red.
Watching worshippers pray is one of the major highlights when visiting the temple as they dress “ao dai” in many colors: white for lay followers, yellow, blue, or red for priests whilst bishops have the Divine Eye embroidered on their headpieces. During praying time, men are seated on the right and women on the left. There is four worship with chanting each day: 6:00 am, 12:00 pm, 18:00 pm, and mid-night. But The main ceremony time here is 12 noon.
Some important notes when visiting the temple:
- Silence is requested during worship time taking place.
- There are two sides of the door to enter the temple; men enter on the right side and women go to the left door.
- Don’t forget to remove your hats, coats, and shoes before stepping inside the temple.
- There is no standard rule of dressing but try to wear formal outfits consistent with the religious place (such as trousers or skirts covering the knees).
- Visitors are permitted to watch from the galleries and may take photographs but DO NOT take pictures of people with the “Thien Nhan”. Also please ask for permission from the manager before taking a panoramic view of the temple.