Embrace Foundation is a non-profit,
educational foundation set up to
create better understanding
between people of different
religions, cultures, traditions and
Embrace Foundation works to bring
leaders and scholars of world-wide
religions, cultures and philosophies
together by sponsoring forums,
seminars, lectures and developing
an international exchange program.
Embrace Foundation is particularly
concerned with reaching the world
public through the media.
Embrace Foundation is an all
volunteer organization. All
donations go directly to programs.
Embrace Foundation does not and
has never given permission to any
outside organization to solicit or
receive contributions on our behalf.
All donations should be made to
Embrace Foundation only via
Paypal or by mail. All donations are
tax deductible. A receipt will be
emailed to you. Please click on the
Pay Pal link below to Donate.
Religion in Viet Nam
Viet Nam is primarily a Buddhist, Taoist/ Traditional Vietnamese/ Chinese and a Catholic country.
Building Interfaith Understanding in Mid-Interior Viet Nam
A Canadian expat, married to a Vietnamese citizen (of both Vietnamese and Chinese heritage) was
most enthused about Embrace when he heard about it. Being from Montreal, he grew up a
Catholic, but his wife is a Buddhist. He told the Embrace Founders that his wife, a successful
business woman, contributes philanthropically to both poor Catholics and to Buddhists throughout
the year. Early on, she made a point of meeting the local priest who for some years has given her
the names of poor people in his parish who need help. (This woman is a very special human being.)
Ajata and Virginia were quite surprised to find out that they had secured their hotel in the “Catholic”
part of the town, (For Virginia this was sort of like the old days of spending Christmas in Belfast)
while our Canadian Catholic friend apparently kept residence in the Buddhist part of town.
It was while the Founders were out for a stroll, that two men enthusiastically hailed them and asked
whether they actually did interfaith work? The Founders gave the men Embrace business cards
with the understanding that if they wanted to contact Embrace for any interfaith reason and it could
be of help to please do so. We mention this incident because people in some parts of Viet Nam feel
a need to forge positive relations.
At Buddhist monasteries there was a keen interest in developing interfaith dialogue. Young
Buddhists however, have a great interest in the world outside Viet Nam and so, it seems they would
be especially interested in meeting people from all sorts of philosophical and religious backgrounds.
About Taking Photos During Prayers
Throughout Viet Nam (in publicized, old, traditional temples (as well as in Java, Indonesia and in
Kowloon and Hong Kong) tourists come to take photographs in unending droves. If the Founders
were not attempting to record these places for educational and registry purposes they would much
prefer to spend quiet time with the people who come to pray, light incense and meditate, although
they do that too.
As a visitor, If possible, try to finish your photographing quickly and stay out of he way of people
praying and meditating. In places such as the traditional temples in the Old City of Hoi An, it is
nearly impossible for the locals to conduct their prayers without being buffeted by hundreds of
tourists and the same problem exists for some of the traditional Chinese and Vietnamese temples in
Hanoi. Of course, quite a lot of tourists in Hoi An are from mainland China and they are particularly
eager to see the clan houses enclosing temples from their part of China.
We strongly urge that, if you can, take photos outside and visit (gently and quietly) inside without
photographing. You will enjoy it a lot more and possibly learn a little about the traditions. You can
temples. It should be noted that many Vietnamese and Chinese temples have elders who sit at the
doorways both at the entrances and elsewhere. Some of them are quite eager to show visitors
around and if you are not taking photos, you will have the chance to avail yourself of their wisdom.
Often the elders who are long time congregation members know special places in a temple that
many visitors never see. Be certain to make a contribution to the temple or if they will accept
money, you can give the person guiding you something. For the elders it is not about money but
about pride in their temple, a place where they may spend much of their day.
Also, it is getting to the point that the government/ temple committees needs to regulate the hours
for photos at many of the tourist temples. And they need to set aside times when people can visit
and times which are strictly for those who wish to worship.
As a Westerner, imagine how you would feel at a Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th
Avenue, New York while hundreds of tourists were allowed to stream up the aisles, sit next to you in
a pew while you’re listening to the priest. squat down in front of the alter and photograph the
celebration of the mass. Perhaps they might even try to bypass the priest and go to the alter to take
a closeup of the crucifix. If you live in Europe, imagine tourists flooding into any number of the great
and famous cathedrals while you are praying, there is a mass going on or even while you are giving
Most Mosques have regulated times for visitors based on the times of salat, churches are strict
about Sundays, (and even during the week, the cathedral in Ho Chi Min City is tough to get into for
visiting busloads of Catholics from Europe) but the Chinese and traditional Vietnamese are very
tolerant. They don’t seem to have any time for themselves. Don’t take advantage of them.
Since many non-Western nations have very beautiful and elegant clothing, we always hope that
these nations will not succumb to the fairly unattractive and generally unflattering designs of the
West. (Designs that do not lend themselves to either gaining or losing weight or aging.) It is with
some optimism that we noted that many Vietnamese designers are creating elegant designs based
on their traditional heritage for their own people.
Laying Down Buses!
Viet Nam has buses going between cities that do not seat the traveler, but ask you to remove your
shoes on entering the bus and have you lay down prone in your designated (seat-bed). If you do not
specify a seated bus, you could end up traveling throughout the day laying down. Generally, no one
will tell you the type of bus unless you ask.
How to Get Out of Nha Trang (if you aren’t flying)
The bus situation between Nha Trang and coastal areas is confused. If you are on your way to Hoi
An or Danang take a train. It is comfortable, on time and efficient. It also arrives in Danang at a