We were introduced to the Cao Daism religion prior to having visited one of its temples, a vast complex reflecting an unusual mix of Asian and European architectural elements. The combination of bright colours, ornate carvings adorning the pillars, dragons, writhing serpents and lotus motifs were quite impressive to look at.
The all-seeing Divine Eye framed in a triangle, symbol of Cao Dai representing supreme knowledge and wisdom was painted on its façade and its interior as well. A statue of Maitreya Buddha dominated the central tower of the temple's façade reflecting the Cao Dai reverence for Buddhism.
Founded by Ngo Van Chieu, Cao Dai or Supreme Spirit reinterprets Tam Giao (the three Sinitic teachings in Vietnam). One of its cornerstones is a belief in "Divien Agents" who make contact with priests during seances. Patron Saints include Joan of Arc, Louis Pasteur and Charlie Chaplin.
Having been initially condemned by the Communists Cao Dai is now said to be tolerated and has three million followers.
I didn't know where to look, though I spent quite some time admiring the sky-like ceiling, the stained glass windows and the overall vibrant decoration where the blue seemed to nevertheless prevail.
As we were leaving we came across a former priest whose calm attitude struck me as projecting a rather "divine" aura ...
(To be continued)