Abstract and Keywords
In some ways, Vietnam is a microcosm of global religions. Vietnamese religious society comprises a great diversity of religious traditions, practices, and beliefs, not only among the majoritarian ethnic Vietnamese population but also among to the more than fifty other ethnic groups residing in Vietnam. In addition to Buddhism (both Mahayana and Theravada), Taoism, Confucianism, Islam (among the Cham minority), and Christianity, there are the specific religious practices of the highland ethnic groups, as well as the southern religious sects such as the Cao Dai and the Hoa Hao. There are about 12,000 pagodas in Vietnam, most of which are in the south. The number of Buddhist monks and nuns is estimated to be around 25,000. Those who fall outside organized religious communities embrace a wide variety of religious tenets and practices within the three-religions context. It is often said that there are three hierarchies of saints in Vietnam: first the buddhas (phat), then the holy saints (thanh), followed by the immortals (tien).
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