Encountering other cultures, you often find that things that appear different are often the same. After all, people have more in common than not. On other occasions, though, you may find that things that look the same are actually different.
This is what happened with certain bits of symbology I saw while travelling around Vietnam. There were certain symbols that kept popping up wherever we travelled shockingly familiar, but somehow out of place. They definitely caught my attention, and this was one of those instances where the meaning of things was completely different.
The symbol is actually a neat little logo. It's an auspicious sign, and means good fortune, though extra meanings have grown up with its use, like the course of the sun, or the footsteps of the Buddha.
It originated in India, and came to Vietnam with Hinduism. It graduated to Buddhism, and lately, it's used by the Cao Đài as well. You see it on temples, but mostly at funerals and on graves. Though it was recently misappropriated, no one here seems to have taken any notice at all.
|Behind the Cao Đài Great Temple|
|A temple on the road|
|At a Buddhist monastery in Đà Lạt
Glass bricks to keep things light
|At a monastery in Saigon
An invitation to enter.
|Seen from the road|
|At the monastery in Saigon|
|At the florist shop
For funerals. Perhaps there's a good use for those armbands after all.