Have you ever wondered why India’s religious diversity is widely famous? Religion in India is known all over the world for having unique diversity in terms of religious beliefs and practices. India’s major religions include Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Christianity, Islam, and Jainism. In India, religion holds the utmost importance and therefore this is the reason that India got the title of “Land of spirituality and philosophy” all over the world. India has received this title due to its diversity of religion, beliefs, celebrations, culture, and languages, etc. Even though India is no state religion country but you will find a diversity of religions ruling different regions. No matter which religion it is, the message of love and brotherhood comes from all the religions, regions and cultures of India.
The rising level of immigration from other Western countries is causing variation in the religious diversity of India. The historical preserved deep religious diversity of Western countries is also entering India’s religious diversity and also the ratio of people belonging to a particular religion keeps on fluctuating.
Different Religions in India
In India, you’ll find Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and aficionados of other religions as well. Let’s have a close look –
Hindus make up almost 80% of the country’s population. You will find Hindus in almost every state of India. Hinduism has no founder or central governing body but the Spectrum of Hindu is very vast which includes deeply religious people, vegetarians, atheists, beef eaters, devotees of Vishnu, devotees of Krishna and much more. Hinduism in itself is very diverse as they have different temples to visit, festivals to celebrate and bhajans and mantras to chant. Hinduism followers comprise of Dravidians, pre-Dravidians, and the Indo Aryans. The followers believe in the principle of Karma, Dharma, rebirth, salvation, and abandonment, etc. The different sects of Hinduism include AryaSamaj, BrahmoSamaj, Sakta, Satnami, and Kabirpanthi, etc.
Indonesia, Pakistan, and India are the 3 countries with the largest Muslim population. You will find Muslims in various states of India including Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, and Agra, etc. 14% of the Muslims population is residing in Jammu and Kashmir. When it comes to the cities then, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Bhopal, Aurangabad, etc are dotted with the Muslim population. Muslims do not believe in Idol worship. they follow their secret book called Quran which states them to follow the five principal duties details including beliefs in Allah, 5 times prayer a day, giving of charities, a month fast every year and pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime.
The impact of their culture, religion, and beliefs can be seen in Indian architecture, including the TajMahal, Jama Masjid, and Red Fort, etc.
If we talk about food cuisines and dishes, then food items like seekh kebab, Tandoori items, biryani, etc are influenced by the Muslims culture. Sufi music is one of the popular music forms in India which originated from the Muslim culture only.
It is believed that Christianity has been in India from the time of Apostle Thomas. In the present scenario, Christians make up around 3-4% of the total population of India. You will find Christians in the majority of states like Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Goa, Kerala, and Mizoram, etc. Roman Catholics are one of the largest Christian communities followed by the CSI and Syrian Christians. Christians believe in Jesus Christ who is the son of god for them. They believe in the Day of Judgment which comes after the closure of human life. They believe that a person is rewarded on the judgment day as per the type of life he led. The Indian education system has been adopting Christian School practices because Christian schools were considered as one of the best educational institutions in the world. Sonia Gandhi and the late Mother Teresa were the two significant Christian personalities that later became Indian citizens.
Sikhs make up 1-2% of India’s population and you will find them in the majority in regions like Punjab, Delhi, and Haryana, etc. When it comes to Sikhs, the number doesn’t matter but their presence and influence can be seen in almost every state of India. You’ll find them in various dignified positions including military, pilots and other officer ranks and top-level positions in MNCs.
Other significant religious groups in India include Jains, Buddhists, and Parsis.
- Buddhism started long ago in India but there was a decline in their number in India but today we can see Buddhists in almost every part of India especially in the states like Bhutan, Sikkim, and Himachal Pradesh, etc.
- Jains are a separate community but their practices are similar to the Hindu community. They are strict vegetarians. Not only they avoid chicken, eggs, and fish but also avoid eating root vegetables like onion, garlic, etc. They are known for their charitable and educational work in all over the world.
- Last but not least, Parsis is an extremely small religious group which you can find mostly in Mumbai. One can become Parsi, only if he is born in that family that’s why they are very few in number.
Religion is all about Community
Basically, when an Indian tells you that he is a Hindu or Sikh, it means he is telling you from where he comes from and not about what he believes or worships. Even when you fill government forms in India, you will be requested to list your religion just to let them know about your community.
Diversity in Public Behaviors
When it comes to the diversification of religion then, public behaviors play an important role. Sikh men wearing a turban and Muslim men are seen wearing a cap whereas; Hindu women usually wear a bindi. Therefore every religion has its own outward behaviors that help others to identify them. Christians have different inward and outward behaviors including unique dresses, names, prayers, and festivals. The Sikh religious group is very easy to identify as the Sikh men wear elegant turbans and some of them do not shave their beards. You will also find a bracelet in their hand called “Kada”.
Diversity in Names
Religions can be assumed from one’s name also. If your name is Hardeep Singh then Indians will automatically know that you belong to a Sikh community. In the same way, if your name is Tauseef Khan then you will be automatically recognized as a part of the Muslim community, Also Sikh men have their last names as “Singh” and women have as “Kaur”. Therefore one’s name plays a very imperative role in depicting one’s religion or community.
Diversity in Worshipping
You’ll find that every religion has its own style of worshipping their God. Hindu people go to the temple and believe in Idol worshiping whereas Christians go to church and the Islamic place of worship is called Mosque. Muslims read their Namaz but Sikh people go to Gurdwara and read, follow Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
Diversity in Religious Beliefs
Every religion has its own beliefs. Sikh people believe that God Lives in the “Sangat” and if you will serve the “Sangat” god will be pleased automatically. Christians believe that God can be pleased and preached through music and speech also through readings from scriptures.
Unity in Diversity
Respect and diversification have made religion an individual matter for Indians, creating a sense of independence in making individual choices regarding religion as per one’s belief. Though India’s religious diversity is very broad it is very easy for one to recognize one’s religion and community just within a few seconds. This inter-communal practice can be seen in India’s constitution also which shows that every religion is given equal importance and every person is free to follow his own religion and beliefs.
The best thing about India’s religious diversity is that India is not identified with a particular religion. Recognitions are granted to multiple religious communities in India. Irrespective of one’s religion, India offers a commitment to values like liberty and equality, etc to all the citizens of India.
Although there are different states that have the majority of people belonging to different religions still there is no wall of separation between the states and the religion. Nobody is restricted to enter Hindu temples or Sikh temples and therefore equal respect is given to all the religions and religious practices. Muslims can visit the Hindu neighbors on occasions like Diwali and Hindus are also welcomed for Eid preparations in India. No matter whether it’s Christmas or Diwali celebration or any other special occasion, you’ll find Indians celebrating the emotions together without discriminating any religion. This is due to the religious richness of India that tourists from all over the world visit this popular land to have a glimpse of the religious diversity of India.
Therefore, this unity in diversity is eradicating all the communal violence and period of tense relationships in India.