Hinduism Overview

Hindu Eating and Diet

Perhaps one of the most important areas of Hindu life is food. Food regulations may differ not only between the various castes and communities of the Hindu traditions but also by region, gender, the stages of a person’s life, the times of the year, the phases of the Moon, the ritual calendar, and an individual’s obligations. There are regular periods of fasting and feasting in

Hinduism: Rituals

Hindu temple rituals are complex, and in many temples there may be a celebration almost every other day. Ritual worship is divided into daily, fortnightly, monthly, and annual cycles. Worship is individual rather than congregational, and the modes of prayer are dictated by many texts. Rituals performed in the home are generally called puja (literally “worship”). Frequently the priest offers the prayers on behalf of

Hinduism: Rites of Initiation | 14

Many life-cycle rituals are called auspicious. The English word “auspiciousness” has been used as a shorthand term for a rather wide category of features in Hindu life. Auspicious times are chosen for the conduct of all sacraments; these times are in agreement with the person’s horoscope. A person’s sacraments (saṁskāras; literally “perfecting”) begin prenatally. After childbirth a ceremony called jātakarma (birth ceremony) is performed.

Hinduism: Membership and Tolerance

Hindu traditions have not sought to convert, nor have they actively proselytized. It has been widely debated whether a person has to be born a Hindu or whether it is possible to convert to the tradition. A widely held opinion is that a person may be initiated to specific traditions (sampradāya) such as ISKCON or the Śrī Vaishnava faith within Hinduism, but the word “convert”

Hinduism: Social Justice | 16

Issues of social justice in Hinduism revolve around the caste system and the status of women. The caste system has been complex and different in the many regions of India: There are many communities that are collectively called “outcaste” in the Western world and that, in India, are now given the administrative labels of “scheduled caste” or “scheduled tribe.” The status of women has largely

Hinduism: Social Aspects

Hinduism is not just a religion focusing on the individual’s relationship to the divine but a network of social relationships and power. Elaborate kinship arrangements and connections are laid out in text and practice, and every family member has specific ritual functions to perform. The family is the centre of most social, cultural, and religious events. Social divisions are part of a complex system of

Hinduism: Cultural Impact | 18

India’s contribution to religion, culture, art, and science has been tremendous: Many of these fields have been framed in religious discourses; thus, healing, astronomy, and architecture are all presented as part of religion. Many of these concepts and practices, however, have spread to other cultures without the religious framework and have been adapted for local consumption. Hindu philosophies had a major impact in many parts

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