Friday, July 15, 2005

Not That Notre Dame

Originally uploaded by yellojkt.
Not all the houses of worship in Vietnam are Buddhist. The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Saigon is a good bit plainer than it's more famous cousin in Paris, but it does serve Saigon's small but significant Catholic population.

Vietnam has the second largest population, behind the Philippines, of Catholics in Asia. Officially, Vietnam has religious freedom, but the Catholic churches we saw in the northern region had either been abandoned or converted to secular purposes after the French left the country and many northern Catholics fled to South Vietnam.

One morning, while walking past Notre Dame, I say a group of about five nuns on there way to Mass wearing blue ao dai's and matching wimples. The ao dai, which is a very practical but formfitting type of formal clothing was also frequently worn by waitresses, store clerks and other women in the tourist district.

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