Lessons on rice and religions


During many of our walks and bike rides around Vietnam we saw rice in various stages.  We saw rice fields that were green and wet. We saw dry rice fields. We saw rice being harvested. We saw rice being dried and packed into 100 pound bags.  This led to many questions and conversations about rice. Where does it best grow, how is it planted and harvested, and then what happens? Who imports and exports it?  Got me starting to question where does the rice come from that I am eating?

Rice. It’s one of the most important food crops in the world. It’s a staple in the diet of nearly half of the world’s population. There are thousands of varieties of rice. It’s so interesting to think that most every culture has its own way of growing, harvesting, processing, and eating rice.  Rice is important in Vietnam.

Vietnam is one of world’s top rice producers. It is the 2nd largest exporter (after Thailand) worldwide and the world’s 7th largest consumer of rice.  There are more than 1600 varieties of rice grown in Vietnam.


We also visited Cao Dia Temple in Da Nang. I had never heard of this religion, Caodaism, before. We saw the temple noted on a map and it was walking distance from where we were staying so we wanted to check it out.  That’s one of the things I love about travel. Seeing things that are new to me and then learning more about it.  Kind of like the rice above.

Vietnam officially is an atheist country. There are only about 8 official religions that the government has sanctioned.  Caodaism is practiced by a small percentage of people in Vietnam.  A large percentage of people consider themselves non-religious but still practice ‘informal” vietnamese folk religion.

Caodaism was established in Southern Vietnam in 1926. It is a mixture of several other religions, including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.  Believers practice prayer, nonviolence, veneration of ancestors, and vegetarianism in order to break the cycle of reincarnation and reunite with God in heaven. The teachings say that Tao existed before God, that God was created during the Big Bang, and he created yin and yang. The union between yin and yang allowed the universe to form. In this religion, heaven has 36 levels and intelligent life exists on 72 planets. Holy people in the eyes of Caodaists include Muhammad, Jesus, Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo, Julius Caesar, and Buddha (to name a few).Practices include; daily prayer, meditation, and seances or “communication with spirit world” which has been outlawed by the Vietnamese government….so not sure if that last one is still practiced or not.

Check out the giant all-seeing eye. It is said to symbolize the vision of the All.