Cao Dai temple in Tay Ninh • Vietnam

"Experience the wonder of the Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh with our video! In under 5 minutes, immerse yourself in the fascinating world of the Holy See of Caodaism and marvel at its eclectic architecture. Accompanied by an explanatory text about the cultural context of this unique location, this video is an invitation to explore. Don't wait any longer to journey to this incredible destination!"

This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip Vietnam & Cambodia • 2014

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Reading the text below will help you better understand the cultural context of the images in this video.

Tay Ninh 

The city of Tay Ninh in Vietnam, less than a hundred kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), is certainly not the most famous city in the country, but it is the Holy See of a religion bringing together more of 5,000,000 devotees in southern Vietnam. 

This city, which has about 140,000 inhabitants, has the largest of the temples of a recent religion, Coadaism. 




Caodaism is one of these syncretist religions, which means that they want to be a synthesis of other religions keeping only the best of each of them. Religions, whatever they are, obviously always have a more down to earth purpose and are often part of a political context. 

Caodaism became an official religion in Cochinchina (the name that the French colonial authorities gave to Vietnam) less than a century ago, in 1925, founded by a Vietnamese official who allegedly came into contact with a spirit during a session of spiritualism. This official was called Ngo Van Chieu. 

The basis of this religion is formed by a synthesis between the 3 main religions of the region, namely Confusianism, Toaism and Buddhism, but its founder was careful not to attract the wrath of the conolial administration which was Christian. It is for this reason that Jesus Christ found a place in the Coadaist pantheon and the religion is led by a clergy organized according to the model of the Catholic Church. 


Cao Dai-religie in Tay Ninh


The Caodaist religion chose the city of Tay Ninh as its main seat and built a magnificent temple there, which is considered a masterpiece of eclectic architecture of the colonial period. But soon, dissident movements appeared in the hierarchy of this young religion. 

The part of the clergy that was genuinely religious decided to distance itself from the dominant ideology in the Holy See of Tay Ninh, which wanted to play a more overtly political and military role in the struggles for Vietnam's independence. 

The relations of the new religion with the colonial administration were turbulent for a few decades, sometimes allied against the Vietminh and sometimes enemies when the Caodaists took the side of the Japanese during the Second World War.


The pantheon of prophets of this religion is to say the least eclectic since we find pell-mell there Moses, Jesus -Christ, Mahomet, William Shakespeare, Louis Pasteur, Sun Yat-sen, Lenin and Joan of Arc without forgetting Victor Hugo. 


Tay Ninh Temple 


Although there are Caodaist temples in the United States, Canada, England or France, that of Tay Ninh in Vietnam is the most important of them. 

This temple, named Thanh That Cao Dai was built between 1933 and 1955 according to the visions of the founder of this religion, without any prior plan. The temple is located in a larger complex, including residences for the religious, schools for their children as well as an orphanage, gardens, a hospital among other buildings. 

The interior of this temple is even more surprising than the exterior which is reminiscent of a Christian church with pastel colors and disproportionate towers compared to the rest of the building. In the center, another tower has taken a form reminiscent of a minaret and further still, a tower symbolizes a pagoda. The colors are orange, brick, ocher and pale blue. A combination of colors that inspire dreamlike visions... 

The interior is no exception. 

A divine eye inscribed in a triangle painted on the facade peers into the souls of visitors, and at the back of the temple, on what looks like an altar, a large green sphere also bears a divine eye. 

Magnificent pink columns decorated with green dragons seem to support the temple. 4 times a day, this temple which is in operation 24 hours a day hosts ceremonies during which the faithful dressed in a kind of white robe sit on the ground in perfect alignment, waiting for the priests and the religious hierarchy dressed in yellow , blue or red. The bishops have a divine eye embroidered on their headdress. 

And the collective prayers are perfectly codified, nothing being left to chance. It is a real disorienting spectacle.


Spoken comments in the film: 

At the beginning of the 20th century, in the Vietnamese city of Tay Ninh, an official had a revelation, a spirit would have appeared to him during a seance of spiritualism, asking him to found a new religion which was to be called Caodaism. This new religion will be a synthesis between Buddhism, Taoism and Confusianism. The founder, however, felt obliged to add a pinch of Christianity..., the religion of the French coloniser.

What's the weather like in Tay Ninh?

about the place, Tay Ninh:

Tay Ninh is a medium-sized city located about 100 kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). It has become famous since the founding of the Cao Dai religion in the early 20th century. Tay Ninh is the Holy See of the new religion and has the largest temple (which itself is part of a larger complex) of the Cao Dai religion



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Disclaimer: Despite its appropriateness, copyright issues prevent the use of vietnamese traditional music in "Cao Dai temple in Tay Ninh • Vietnam", hence the use of royalty-free music. Despite our careful selection, some might regret this decision, which is necessary to avoid potential lawsuits. Although difficult, this decision is the only viable solution.

Tay Ninh, holy seat of the Cao Dai religion in Vietnam, Tay Ninh • Vietnam
an overview of the Cao Dai temple, Tay Ninh • Vietnam

an overview of the Cao Dai temple

inside the temple, Tay Ninh • Vietnam

inside the temple

the altar of the temple, Tay Ninh • Vietnam

the altar of the temple

during a temple ceremony, Tay Ninh • Vietnam

during a temple ceremony

Tay Minh, Vietnam

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