Kansas State University and Oomoto Religion attended the Great Festival Commemorating God - Year 2023
First of all, we would like to remind you that on the occasion of the Festival Commemorating God in the Year of the Rat 2020, Rev.Thuong Canh Thanh, former Representative of the Cao Dai Sacerdotal Council Overseas, invited 3 foreign friends to attend:
1. Prof. Joe Hobbs, University of Missouri, USA
2. Prof. Michael Wesch, Kansas State University, USA, and family
3. Mr. Patrick Scott, New York Times reporter, USA and family
(Please visit the homepage for details: https://caodai.com.vn/vn/news-detail/mon-hoc-ton-Giao-cao-dai-duoc-giang-day-tai-dai-hoc- tieu-bang-kansas-hoa-ky.html)
After returning home, Professor Michael Wesch was very interested in the teachings of Cao Dai, so he immediately taught Cao Dai religion to students in his Anthropology class. The number of students attending classes is about 60-80 in each semester from 2020 to now. In 2021, Professor Wesch wanted to organize a trip for some of the students, to both travel and study, in Vietnam and especially at the Cao Dai Holy See in Tay Ninh. The purpose of the trip is for students to see firsthand the religion they are studying. and when they return home, they can write their assigned tasks.
Therefore, today we would like to report on the activities of the Kansas State University Delegation's trip to the Cao Dai Holy See in Tay Ninh to attend the Great Festival Commemorating God in the Year of the Rabbit 2023.
The delegation from Kansas State University led by Professor Michael Wesh and 7 students took a flight from the US and arrived at Tan Son Nhat airport, Ho Chi Minh City, at 9:50 pm on January 26, 2023.
The delegation list from Kansas State University (KSU) includes:
1. Professor Michael Wesch
2. Hanna Cavely
3. Maddie Franklin
4. Crystal Miller
5. Avery Taylor
6. Evan Lynch
7. Ben Adams
8. Kevin Jackson
Accompanying the trip with the Delegation were a number of Dignitaries and Sub- Dignitaries of the Washington Congregation and the Taiwan, Taipei Congregation, acting as sponsors and interpreters, as follows:
- Rev. Ngoc Tua Thanh (Le Van Tua)
- Deacon Huong Thoan (Vo Kim Thoan)
- Deacon Huong Tru (Le Thi Tru)
- Deacon Huong Trang (Vo Thi Thu Trang)
- Deacon Huong Dung (Dang Thi Thu Dung)
- Chief Taipei Congregation Nguyen Tuan Em
- Taipei Congregation Secretary Ly Thi Thuy Trang
In addition, there was also the Oomoto Church Delegation, Mr. Katsuya Kimura, International Department Director, based in Kameoka, Kyoto, Japan. Mr. Kimura arrived late on January 28th, 2023, and joined the group at the dinner celebration.
The Delegation also had the support of 12 young Cao Dai men and women in HCM City and in Tay Ninh to accompany as interpreters during the trip.
January 27th, 2023 -
At 9:00am, the Delegation had the opportunity to meet and work at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities under the National University of Ho Chi Minh City. Receiving the delegation was Prof. Dr. Huynh Ngoc Thu, who is the Dean of the Faculty of Anthropology.
In the welcoming remark to the delegation for visiting Vietnam in general and in Ho Chi Minh City as well as in Tay Ninh in particular, in harmony with the Lunar New Year atmosphere, Professor Thu introduced many Asian customs imbued with Vietnamese New Year's culture such as congratulatory wine, lucky money, New Year wishes and gift donation.
At 10:00am, the Delegation went to visit the main tourist attractions of Ho Chi Minh City, such as Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, HCM City People's Committee Headquarter.
January 28th, 2023 -
At 8:00am, the delegation from Kansas State University and the Cao Dai Organizing Committee departed for the Tay Ninh Holy Land.
At 2:00 pm on January 28, 2023 at the office of the Caodai Male Cardinal, the KSU delegation had an audience with H.E Cardinal Thuong Tam Thanh, President, Cao Dai Sacerdotal Council, Tay Ninh Holy See. Welcoming the delegation, H.E Cardinal Tam gave a brief remark about Cao Dai doctrine and philosophy, its principles and goals to attain salvation.
Responding to the Cardinal, Professor Michael Wesh shared that he was very honored to be present on the occasion of the Great Festival Commemorating God for this year 2023. The professor also shared a lot of emotions when knowing the principles and purpose of Cao Dai religion which are to take the love of all humanity as the end to achieve World Peace.
After the meeting, the KSU delegation took a souvenir photo with H.E Cardinal Thuong Tam Thanh.
Next, the KSU delegation was guided by Archbishop Ngoc Hong Thanh, Chief of the Interior of the Caodai Sacerdotal Council, to visit and learn the history, structure and meaning of the Caodai Basilica at the Holy See.
At 4:00 pm on the same day, the KSU delegation had a Q&A meeting with Rev. Thuong Canh Thanh, former Chief Representative of the Caodai Sacerdotal Council Overseas, now retired. The Q&A session revolved around questions about doctrine, philosophy, rituals, and about the Great Festival Commemorating God activities. This is a special occasion for the KSU students during the visit to Tay Ninh, creating an opportunity for them to study more deeply about Cao Dai religion wth direct dialogue, face-to-face interview with Cao Dai Dignitaries and followers.
At the end of the Q&A session, a welcome party for the delegation was held at Phuoc Lac Duyen restaurant with a cultural performance imbued with Vietnamese culture and Cao Dai religious music. The most outstanding feature of the party was the performance of Cao Dai youths using national instruments to perform international songs (Japanese and American) and the cultural exchange performed by the KSU students. Sincere thanks to the young men and women of Cao Dai (over 20 persons) who volunteered to do meritorious work for this cultural exchange program, partly contributing to the work of spreading Cao Dai religion to the world.
Besides the tour and work schedule, it is impossible not to mention the details of the KSU students who asked to wear the ceremonial white “Ao Dai” (dress) during their stay in Tay Ninh. This not only carries the image of the Cao Dai religion uniform but also the image of the Vietnamese national costume that has spread around the globe.
January 29th, 2023 -
At 7:00 a.m the KSU and Oomoto delegation (now called the Delegation) departed to the Holy See to attend the inauguration of exhibition booths celebrating the Great Festival Commemorating God.
After the welcome speech and ribbon cutting by H.E Cardinal Thuong Tam Thanh, the Cao Dai Organizing Committee guided the Delegation to visit the 32 exhibition booths celebrating the Great Festival, organized at the grand communal ground of the Holy See.
Next, the Delegation visited Bao An Tu (the Holy Mother Goddess Temple) and learn about the structure and meaning of the place for worshiping the Holy Mother Goddess and the Nine Female Immortals, explained by Archbishop Ngoc Hong Thanh.
Afterward, the Delegation continued to visit the Ho-Phap (Pope Pham Cong Tac)’s residence.
At 4:00 pm on the same day, the Caodai Sacerdotal Council organized a vegetarian dinner at the Refectory (Trai Duong), and the Delegation enjoyed the vegetarian meal in an intimate atmosphere with the Sacerdotal Council and government guests attending the Festival.
At 18:30, the Delegation attended the Parade of the Dragon dance and the Four Spiritual Animals dance at Pham Ho Phap Boulevard and the Grand Communal ground (Dai Dong Xa).
January 30th, 2023 -
At exactly midnight on January 30th, 2023 (ie on the 9th day of the first month of the year of the Rabbit), the Delegation participated in the worshiping ceremony of the Grand Mass commemorating God at the Caodai Basilica. In the solemn atmosphere of the Grand Mass (Dai Dan) ceremony, the Delegation once again learned about the Caodai process and religious rituals of a “Dai Dan”, typical of the Cao Dai religion.
At 7:00am, the Delegation came to attend and learn about the funeral rites of the Cao Dai religion at the home of a believer who had just died in Hiep Ninh ward, Tay Ninh province. The ceremony and rituals performed at the Holy Mother Goddess Temple and at the Caodai Basilica were solemnly performed, giving the Delegation a rare opportunity to record valuable documents on the funeral rites of the Cao Dai religion, at home, at the Holy Temples and at the religion’s cemetery (Cuc Lac Thai Binh).
At 10:00 am on the same day, the Delegation came to visit and learn about the Seven-Jewels Pond (Ao That Buu) - a building built by Ho Phap Pham Cong Tac himself to represent the path of a deceased to cross in order to reach Nirvana, according to Caodai teachings from God.
Next, the Delegation visited Tri Hue Cung Meditation Center. The Delegation was welcomed by Bishop Thai Tho Thanh, Caodai Sacerdotal Representative of Tay Ninh province, who explained about the structure and the use of the Center in the early 40s and 50s. Finally Bishop Thai Tho Thanh invited everyone for an intimate lunch here.
At 2:00 pm. on the same day, the students of the Delegation continued to visit the homes of two Caodai Sub-Dignitaries and a Cao Dai believer, as follows:
Family 1: Sub-dignitary Truong Van Bong -in Hiep Ninh Ward, Tay Ninh province.
Family 2: Sub-dignitary Nguyen Ngoc Thanh – in Hiep Ninh Ward, Tay Ninh province.
Family 3: Adept Nguyen Van Vang – in Hoa Thanh District, Tay Ninh Province.
At the interview, the students raised questions related to daily life as well as spiritual and religious life to the above families, and also learned about how to worship at the home altar.
January 31st, 2023 -
At 9:00am, the Delegation came to visit and experience tourism activities at Ba Den Mountain Resort - Tay Ninh province.
Back to Ho Chi Minh City at 1:00pm on the same day, the Delegation ended the visit to Tay Ninh Holy See and continued its tour to Da Nang and to some other places of Vietnam.
It is known that professors and students of Kansas State University were very impressed with the trip to visit and study Cao Dai religion and were very happy to have enough materials to do the final thesis or papers. The Oomoto religion was also very impressed with the performance of traditional music and promised to invite Cao Dai youths to Kameoka Oomoto headquarters, in Kyoto, Japan, to attend a cultural performance to welcome the 100th year anniversary of establishing the Esperanto language, some time in September of this year. Oomoto hopes that Cao Dai youths would join them to learn and speak this language.
The reception of the delegation of professors and students of an American university partly contributed to the work of spreading the Cao Dai religion to the world. Soon there will be rumors in the world that there is a new religion with a new teaching that is worth studying, that is the Cao Dai religion in Vietnam. Of course, Cao Dai dignitaries always welcome more foreign student delegations to visit Tay Ninh Holy See and study Caodaism.
Here are some photos of the Kansas State University and Oomoto Church Delegation recorded according to the aforementioned schedule:
Album 1: Visiting the University of Humanities and Social Sciences
Album 2: Sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City
Album 3 : Audience with H.E Cardinal Thuong Tam Thanh
Album 4: Q&A about Cao Dai religion
Album 5: Cultural and Entertainment exchange in Phuoc Lac Duyen
Album 6: Visiting the CaoDai Basilica, the Holy Mother Goddess Temple and the Pope’s Residence
Album 7: Opening Ceremony of the Exhibition booths
Album 8: Attending the Parade Commemorating God
Album 9 : Attending the Grand Mass Commemorating God
Album 10 : Attending the Funeral of a Cao Dai Believer
Album 11: Visiting the homes of a Cao Dai Sub-Dignitary and a Cao Dai Believer
Album 12 : Visiting the Seven Jewels Pond
Album 13 : Visiting Tri Hue Cung Meditation Center
Album 14 : Visiting Ba Den Mountain and Farewell
Reported by Thien An
Photos byHuu Loi and CaodaiTV Group