Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In Hue....Day Two

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Having driven from Da Nang to Hue yesterday, I noticed a Cao Đài temple close to our hotel. I had wanted to visit and photograph the rituals associated with this religious tradition for quite a while now, so the presence of this temple was extremely exciting.

Cao Đài is a syncretistic, monotheistic religion, officially established in the city of Tây Ninh, southern Vietnam in 1926. Its adherents engage in ethical practices such as prayer, veneration of ancestors, nonviolence, and vegetarianism. Estimates of its adherents range from 3 to 6 million, most of which are in Vietnam. Some of its saints are Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, William Shakespeare, Joan of Arc and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Following a few telephone calls and a visit by Maika Elan and Quoc Anh, we secured the approval of the head priest to photograph its daily prayer at noon. Both Maika and I had to meet him again this morning, and to reassure him that we were serious photographers, interested in documenting world religions.

We were allowed to photograph at will during the prayer ceremony, and to interview the congregation. It was extremely fortuitous that we were allowed to do so, as my understanding that the main Cao Đài temple in Southern Vietnam doesn't allow visitors except on the upper balconies during prayer times.

Photo © Quoc "Ron" Anh- All Rights Reserved

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