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Beliefs and religions in Vietnam

Sat, 28 Jun 2014. Last updated Wed, 17 Sep 2014 17:42

Vietnam is situated between two axes of culture, stretching from China and India. In addition, with its socio-economic, historical reasons..., beliefs and religions in Vietnam are surprisingly abundant and flourishing.

Reflecting the influence of multi-culture, beliefs and religions in Vietnam are actually plentiful and prosperous. Vietnamese people have remained a time-honored tradition of practicing their beliefs and regions. Ethnic communities in the nation also retain particular beliefs associated with their own economic and spiritual life.


Traditional beliefs

Vietnamese ancestor worship


With the perception that anything that owns a soul, the ancient Vietnamese have worship many gods, especially those related to agriculture such as the sun, the moon, the earth, the forest , the river and the mountain... for their peace. In addition, ethnic minority group each displays their own unique forms of beliefs. However, the most characteristic expressions are the primitive beliefs and traditional beliefs still preserved by far in ethnic groups such as Tay - Thai, Hmong – Dao, Hoa - San Diu – Ngai, Cham - Ede - Gia Rai, and Mon - Khmer.

Besides, the most popular and long-standing customs and practices of the Vietnamese and some ethnic minorities are ancestor worship and commemoration of dead anniversaries. Each Vietnamese family has an altar to venerate their ancestors. Also, remembering the favor of predecessors is highly valued. Beside the ancestor worship in each family and clan, many villages in Vietnam build the temper or communal house to pay homage to Village Deity. The custom of worshiping Village Deity and communal houses is a unique characteristic in Vietnamese villages. In detail, Village Deity worshiped could be gods or prominent persons who making extremely great contributions such as forefather of traditional handicraft villages or national heroes establishing a “public declaration state”, fighting foreign invaders. In addition, Vietnamese people also worship gods as Kitchen God, God of the Soil...


Religions in Vietnam

State of Vietnam has recognized the registration and activity of 37 religious organizations and  sects with over 24 million believers (about 27% of the national population), 83,000 officials, 250,000 dignitaries and 46 religious dignitary training schools (the equivalent of high school to postgraduate level), and 25,000 worship places.

Vietnam religion currently insists of 06 major religions as follows:



Domaine de Marie Church in Vietnamese Catholicism


Many Catholic historians believed that Catholicism was first set its presence in Vietnam in 1533. From 1533 to 1614, Portuguese Francis and Spanish Dominicans priests mainly accompanied merchant ships to Vietnam. From 1615 to 1665, Portuguese Jesuit clergies entered Vietnam from Macau (Macau, China) operating in the Cochin (southern Gianh River) and Tonkin (northern Gianh River). There are currently about 10 million Catholic believers, 42 Bishops, 4,000 priests, 100 religious orders, congregations, unions expanding 26 dioceses and 07 Seminaries.



Buddhism was introduced in Vietnam in early years AD. From 10th to 15th century, Buddhism in Vietnam reached significant developments together with the independence of the nation. Ly-Tran Dynasty (from early 11th century to the end of 14th century) was the heyday of Vietnam Buddhism. Buddhism nowadays attracts approximately 11 million followers, over 17,000 places of worship, nearly 47,000 dignitaries, 04 Buddhist Institutes, 09 College of Buddhist Studies, and 31 training schools...



Protestantism was presented in Vietnam later than other religions introduced from outside, by the late 19th, early 20th century. It was organized by the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA). 1911 is considered as landmark confirming its evangelicals into Vietnam. Currently, the Protestant are around 1.5 million followers of 10 organizations and sects, 3,000 dignitaries, nearly 400 places of worship, 01 Institute of Theological Bible and 01 Bible school.



Muslim believers in Vietnam are mainly Cham people. According to historical records, Cham people were first introduced Muslim from 10th – 11th century. There are two schools of Cham people following Muslim: an older Muslim (Cham Ba-ni) with followers in Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, and a newer one (Cham Islam) with followers in Chau Doc (An Giang), Ho Chi Minh City, Tay Ninh, Dong Nai. Currently Muslims in Vietnam are over 80,000 followers, 89 places of worship, 1,062 officials, dignitaries and 07 Muslim organizations recognized by the State.



Praying in Caodaism


Caodaism is an indigenous religion, officially established in Go Ken pagoda (Tay Ninh province) in mid-November 1926. Currently, Caodaism has approximately 2.5 million followers belonging to 10 sects, more than 10,000 dignitaries and over 1,200 places of worship in 37 provinces and cities over the country.


Hoa Hao Buddhism

It is also an indigenous religion founded by Huynh Phu So on 04th July 1939 in Hoa Hao village, An Giang province. Hoa Hao Buddhism currently retains about 1.3 million followers, including the 2,528 officers, 94 temples in 20 provinces and cities.

There are also some other religions in Vietnam including Judaism, Vietnamese Pure Land Buddhism Association, Baha'i Religious Community of Vietnam, Buu Son Ky Huong , Tu An Hieu Nghia (Four Debts of Gratitude), Minh Su Theravada Buddhist Sect, Minh Ly Sect, Brahmanism…with near total of 1.3 million followers. In addition, there are approximately 20 independent Caodaism organizations, 40 Protestant denominations and groups...which have been coexisting peacefully for centuries in Vietnam.

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