Religions in Vietnam

Religions in Vietnam: The turbulent story, many atrocious wars without stop and cultural influences from India, Chine and European make Vietnam a very diverse country in terms of beliefs and religions. 

Religions in Vietnam

Different religions in Vietnam:

Buddhism: This religion was introduced in Vietnam after the AD second century, by the Indian priests. It is more an ethic, a philosophy than a religion. It orients human race toward the good and provides a means to liberate the sufferings of human life. The Buddhism was divided in two different schools that are Mahayana Buddhism or Big Vehicle – simplified Buddhism and Nihayana Buddhism - original Buddhism or the Small Vehicle. For a certain period of history, it was served as a national religion under the various feudal dynasties. Buddhism plays currently the predominant role of religion in Vietnam.

Confucianism: Introduced in Vietnam in the early years of the Christian era, as Buddhism, Confucianism is more an ethic of life than a religion. It is rather a set of moral, social doctrines, studies valorization to climb on society hierarchy. This doctrine became the theory in favor of feudal dynasties to select mandarins, royal officials from 1076 until 1919. The influences of this religion are still very clear until today in the mentality and behavior of Vietnamese people.

Taoism: Appeared in Vietnam about the same time of these mentioned religions, Taoism originally searched for the harmony and balance of the universe to live longtime. This religion was quickly mixed with other Vietnamese local beliefs: the cult of genies, animism, and shamanism … In short, it becomes a mysterious belief.

Catholicism: The arrival of European missionaries in the 16th century, mostly Portuguese and French people mainly because of the war in Indochina, gave a new image to Vietnam’s religions: Catholicism was evangelized. Now, we count 10 million of people practicing this religion in the country.

Hinduism: This religion was practiced by Cham ethnic of the Champa Kingdom in central Vietnam. Hinduism became the main doctrine during the development of the kingdom which ended around the 17th century due to the Viet or Kinh conquest of Daiviet Kingdom – Vietnam today.  Hinduism is just little practiced by a small community of Cham people in the South of Vietnam.

Islamism: Peacefully practiced by a small community of Chams and Khmers in the South of Vietnam, this religion was introduced by Arab traders in recent times, seems to fit perfectly with the evolution of other religions in the country.

Caodaism: Founded in the 1920s in the South of Vietnam by Ngo Minh Chieu in a particular historical atmosphere, Caodaism wants to gather the main doctrines of these religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and even Catholicism. The gathered doctrine is mixed with the local beliefs and important persons: Victor Hugo, Revolutionary persons…The aim is to unify all the disciples of the world to avoid conflict because of difference of principles. There are 3 million followers in the country, mainly in the South and in the Mekong delta.

Hoahaoism: Known as a local sect of Buddhism or an adaptation of Buddhism to the local life in the South of Vietnam, Hoahaoism is based on three Gratefulness: Gratefulness of Buddha, of Parents and of nation.

Except from these religions, the local beliefs: Animism, shamanism, cult to different genies, cult to three Mothers (Of God, Land and Water), cult to national heroes… are widely practiced in the whole country.

The differences in religions in Vietnam are elements to differentiate its culture with the others.