Located in a quiet neighbourhood in central Da Nang, the local Cao Dai temple is worth a quick visit, though it’s not nearly as spectacular as the temple at the sect’s headquarters in Tay Ninh. It’s simple from the outside, and an inattentive passerby could easily miss it. Try to take a peek inside though
If prayer is taking place or a guard is on hand to let you in, you can check out the much more interesting interior, decorated with typical Cao Dai ornamentation – note the globe at the rear of the interior holding the all-seeing eye. The temple is locked up outside of prayers, but there is often someone around to let you in. Otherwise, you can wander around the grounds and peek through the slatted shutters anytime you please.
Cao Dai (a.k.a. Dao Cao Dai or Caodaism) is a syncretist Vietnamese religious movement with a strongly nationalist political character. Cao Dai draws upon ethical precepts from Confucianism, occult practices from Taoism, theories of karma and rebirth from Buddhism, and a hierarchical organization (including a pope) from Roman Catholicism.
In 1919 Ngo Van Chieu, an administrator for the French in Indochina, received a communication from the supreme deity during a table-moving séance. Chieu became the prophet of the new religion, which was formally established in 1926. Caodaists believe this ushered inTam Ky Pho Do or the Third Period of Salvation, a period marked by direct revelation between heaven and earth. Caodaism is the Dai Daoor great religion of this period.
The Great Temple was built between 1933 and 1955. A Cao Dai army was established in 1943 during the Japanese occupation of Indochina. After the war the Cao Dai was an effective force in national politics; it first supported, then opposed, Premier Ngo Dinh Diem. In 1955–56 Diem disbanded the Cao Dai army and forced the sect’s pope, Pham Cong Tac, into exile.
After the communist takeover in 1975, Cao Dai was reportedly repressed by the government. Centers of worship were established in Vietnamese refugee communities abroad, however, and it was legalized in 1985.