India is a land of various religions followed by their own religious practices and spiritual beliefs. This spiritual land has given birth to many religions like Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Hinduism is considered to be the oldest and widely practiced religion in our country. Also, India has the third largest population of Muslims in the world. Apart from the major religions, Zoroastrianism, Baha’i faith and Judaism are also practiced in India.
Importance of Religion
Indians have a strong belief in religion because they feel that religion gives meaning to their lives. The definition of religion is not circumscribed by religious beliefs, but also focuses on ethics, manners, rituals, philosophies, and ceremonies.
Major Religious Groups in India
Let’s have the deeper insights of some of the major religious groups in India!
This is the oldest religion in the country and is practiced by the majority of the population in India. Hinduism has no exact founder. Vedic is the root of Hinduism and therefore Hindus believe in the endless birth and rebirth unless a soul achieves liberation. People who follow Hinduism worship at the place known as temple or Mandir. For them, the icons are the reflection of God and therefore, they believe in idol worshipping. Hinduism is further divided into various sects like Arya Samaj that does not practice idol worship. As per the Hindu mythology Diwali, Holi, Durga Puja, Ganesh Chaturthi etc. are the main festivals of Hindus.
Holy book – Geeta and Ramayan are the two books of Hindus. They practice the teachings and principles of the Vedas and the Upanishads.
Islam means submission to God, therefore the religion believes in the imperative commitment to the God. Islam is defined by the five pillars including alms giving, worshipping, fasting pilgrimage and profession of Faith. Muslims do not believe in idol worship and they pray five times a day. Mecca is a holy place for all Muslims and in India; Muslims are given full privilege to practice their religion and to follow their principles. Undoubtedly Muslims forms 13-15% of the population of India. You will find Muslims in various regions of India like Agra, Hyderabad etc. Their main festivals include Muharram EidulZuha and EidulFitr.
Holy book – Muslims are divided into various subsections with their holy book as Quran. Muslims believe and follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.
Guru Nanak DevJi was the founder of Sikhism who always motivated his learners to preach universal brotherhood irrespective of color, religion or caste. Their tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh founded Khalsa and established the specific code of conduct to identify the Sikhs. Sikhs celebrate birthdays and martyrdom of theirs Sikh Gurus. Vaisakhi, HolaMohalla, and Guru Purab are the major events celebrated by the Sikhism followers. Majority of Sikhs live in Punjab and in other nearby areas like Delhi, Chandigarh etc.
Holy book – Guru Granth Sahib is the holy book of Sikhs which contains the writings and teachings of their 10 gurus. The Sikh Gurus have taught their followers to believe in the universal religion of brotherhood and kindness. They believe that the true salvation can be achieved with devotion only.
It was founded by Siddharth Gautam also known as Buddha. Buddhist constitutes around 2 to 3% of total population of India. With the beliefs and the concepts of Karma, rebirth and other teachings of Lord Buddha, they follow the path of wisdom, kindness, and love. Other devotional practices followed by Buddhist include pilgrimage, chanting and bowing. Their main festivals include Magha Puja day, the birthday of Buddha and Loy Krathong.
Principles – Buddhism emphasis on truthfulness, loves, benevolence, and respect for the elders. They believe that man is the creator of his own destiny. The way he will act, he will get results as per his deeds only; one cannot escape from his or her deeds. Nonviolence is the main principle of Buddhists.
It is believed that Jainism was originated in India in 7th to 5th century BCE. Jainism was founded by Mahavira and the followers believe in the theology of self rather than God. Although India has less population of Jainism yet you can find them in various regions of India. Their main festivals include Mahavir Jayanti, Diwali, and Maun agiyara etc.
Principles – They follow the principles of non-possessiveness, nonviolence, and non-absolutism.
As per the historical beliefs, Christianity entered India about 2,000 years ago. Surprisingly this community can be founded all over India. They worship Jesus Christ who was the Savior of humanity for them. You will find Christians mainly in Kerala. They are divided into three sects, namely Roman Catholic, Protestants and Romo Syrians. Their major festivals include Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter etc.
Holy book – The holy book of Christians is Bible
- Other Religions – Judaism, Animisms, and Zoroastrianism are the other religions that are practiced by the minority population in our country.
- Judaism believes in the treaty relationship between God and human beings. Jainism follows three-fold paths called “Tri Ratna” to achieve the salvation. They are against the idea of monotheism and are somewhere similar to the Hindu religion. They also worship cow and go to the temples like Hindus. Jainism makes sure that they do not kill or harm any living body including men, animals, insects, and plants etc. Even at the time of walking they take utmost care not to harm any insect. They believe that killing or harming any living being will delay their liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Jains are usually located in areas like U.P., Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra etc.
- Zoroastrianism is the religion of Parsis. Though their percentage is negligible in India, you can find them in areas like Mumbai. Most of the Parsis are rich and are well educated. They believe that humans are the helpers of God.
- Animism is a religious faith of tribal that believes in worshipping spirits, ghosts, and souls. They believe that every object has a soul so they worship things like stone, tree, hill etc. According to them, every place is meant to be worshipped because these places are the seats of the spirits. Not only do they include stones, rivers, ponds, animals, plants, and Mountains etc. as the places of spirits but they also include dead bodies in under it. As per their belief things like diseases, shortage of water, low fertility of soil, damage to crops and higher death rates etc occur only when the evil spirits are not properly worshipped.
The bottom line is that India is a land of diversity which is visible in the spheres of religions as well. Though different religions are practiced here you will still find these cultures existing and thriving in harmony and where sovereignty of the nation is never compromised with. All religions are equally respected and play an important role in maintaining harmony and peace in our country.