An elegant sufficiency

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tay Ninh

When we were last here, we heard a bit about the Cao Dai religion, unique to Vietnam (but with a small community in California, too) Too complex to explain here, I'll simply add this link where you can learn all you wanted to know about it. Suffice to say that believers incorporate aspects of several religions and venerated figures include Buddha, Confucius, and Jesus Christ - somehow Victor Hugo fits in there amongst others as well!

So, off we went to Tay Ninh, the Holy See this morning, some two and a half hours away from Saigon by car. Not really sure what we were going to see, the minute we stepped inside the main church we knew that the drive had been worthwhile. We left our shoes outside and appreciated the cool, smooth tiled floor after the heat outside.

What greeted us was a riot of colour, somewhere between Michaelangelo and Mary Englebreit. Not only were we warmly welcomed, we were actively encouraged to take photographs and observe the service which was about to commence.

We climbed the stairs to a viewing balcony along with other tourists and watched as groups of followers assembled at different levels of the stepped nave according to their level of achievement towards Nirvana.

One lone gentleman of advancing years had made it the furthest and sat on level five or thereabouts.

Throughout the service, the followers were overshadowed by the all-seeing eye symbol, there in a triangle on every window and on a large earth-like sphere above the altar.

After around half an hour of chanting accompanied by drums and a reedy wind instrument of some kind, the followers got to their feet and processed out of the hall. We did the same and went outside to find a small crisis

Whilst we had been inside, a heavy rainstorm had caused a flood outside and all the shoes had floated away! Many were searching for their flipflops in vain - and what about ours?

Fortunately, Vinh, our guide had foreseen the potential problem and had rushed outside and rescued them. Who knew that he'd be able to recognise our shoes amongst the many? Good man!!

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  • I think I want to go live there...except it is too hot. Victor Hugo!!! who'duv thunk it!!

    If you hadn't worn those 4 inch platform heels, it would have been harder for the poor man to save them {GG}

    By Blogger jordi , at 3:47 pm  

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