Home     About Us     Search     Contact Us 


Save This Page



   Have a Question?

 Live Help Click Here !   Click Here


 Indian Gifts

Indian Gift Baskets

 Indian Cuisine Made EZ

Indian Recipe Box

Non-Vegetarian Cuisine

Curries, Kebabs and More  !

Vegetarian Cuisine

Wonderful easy vegetarian recipes !

Indian Herbs, Spices and Ingredients

 Learn about Indian Herbs and Spices !

Glossary of Indian Food Terms

Do you know what they mean?

Indian Food Terms !

Indian Kitchenware 


"Indian Spice Box"

Indian Kitchenware

Food Measurements and Conversions
Need a quick conversion...go here !

Indian Tea 

 The Chai Page ! Click here !

Having a Party ? Plan Your Party Here 

Party Planning and More !

Fun Cocktails

Cocktail Recipes !

Star Chefs 

Read in-depth interviews on your favorite Indian Chefs

Indian Cooking 101

Learn The Basics !

Indian Cooking Classes

Sign up for the new session....March, April, May 2002

Cooking Tips & Tricks

Great Kitchen Tips !

Managing time when cooking Indian food

Time Management Tips !

Cooking With Your Kids

Hints and Tips !

 Indian Culture Made EZ

Getting to know India

India : A Nation

Indian Money

Join our open discussion about  Indian Cuisine and Culture

Click to Subscribe

Powered by www.yahoogroups.com


Indian Religions

Click For More

Religion in India is a very big part of everyday life. The Sanskrit word for the religion is dharma. The main religious communities and the religions in India are

Web www.CuisineCuisine.com


India is a birth place of four religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Brahmanism (Hinduism), with its accompanying social caste system, evolved from the Vedic religion of Aryan invaders.


Hinduism is "A Way Of Life". There is no founder of Hinduism. The word "Hindu" is derived from the name of river Indus, which flows through northern India. In ancient times the river was called the 'Sindhu', but the Persians who migrated to India called the river 'Hindu', the land 'Hindustan' and its inhabitants 'Hindus'. Thus the religion followed by the Hindus came to be known as 'Hinduism'. The seeds of Hinduism was brought to India  by the Aryans who settled along the banks of the Indus  river about 2000 B. C. The Aryans first worshipped the  forces of nature e.g., Surya, the Sun; Vayu, the Wind;  Agni, the Fire.    Top

Hindus pray to and worship different gods and goddesses or deities. The most fundamental of Hindu deities, is the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - Creator, Preserver and Destroyer respectively. They celebrate the festivals and perform "Pujas" or ceremonies and rituals to the particular god or deity. Hindus have many beliefs and practices that have been handed down by word of mouth and daily practice. Many of these deities are housed within ornate temples of unparalleled beauty and grandeur. 

Siddhi Vinayak

The temple situated at Prabhadevi attracts many devotees from all over the city. Tuesday is the most auspicious day for the temple when devotees stand for long hours to seek blessings of Lord Ganesha. It is the most prominent place of Dadar, Mumbai.

Hindus believe in
"Karma" - law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own de
stiny by his thoughts, words and deeds and in "Reincarnation" -  rebirth of the soul in a new body. Hindus also believe in "Moksha" or Salvation - a  belief that one can get free from the bondage of  life through spiritual knowledge like meditation and  yoga, devotion to God, making sacrifices, and  serving the society unselfishly.     Top

The primary books of Hinduism are 

Vedas : The 4 Vedas are

  • The Rig Veda -"Royal Knowledge"

  • The Sama Veda - "Knowledge of Chants"

  • The Yajur Veda - "Knowledge of Sacrificial Rituals"

  • The Atharva Veda - "Knowledge of Incarnations"

Vedas are the earliest  Hindu scripts and are a collection of poetic hymns in  praise of the Supreme power (God). 

Upanishads and Puranas: Upanishads define the  basic philosophy of the religion, such as Karma,  Dharma, and the Caste System. There are 108 extant Upanishads, of which 10 are most important: Isa, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taitiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, Brihadaranyaka.     Top

Bhagavad-Gita The Bhagavad-Gita  describes Hindu ideals and tells about the path to become a saint or yogi.It contains some of the most brilliant theological lessons about the nature of God and of life ever written. Lord Krishna explains the details  of life to his friend Arjuna who was discouraged to fight  a war, known as the "The War of Kurushetra"  that involved relatives and friends. The Bhgvad Gita is part of the great Hindu Epic the Mahabharata.      Top

Mahabharata : The world's longest epic poem and one of the greatest Hindu epic was composed by Vyas Deva It was written in about 9th century BC, and deals with the power struggle between the Pandava and the Kaurava families, with an intertwining of numerous episodes that make up life and also describes the story of Vedic era. 

Ramayana: The other great composition is the epic called Ramayana  written by Valmeeki. It describes  the story of Rama (a representative of God Vishnu),  the king of Ayodhya. Rama's wife Sita was abducted by  Ravana, the demon king of Sri Lanka. Rama fought a war  against Ravana and defeated him. Ramayana presents the  ideology of king Rama and his love for his country.   Top

Some of the popular Hindu festivals are Deepawali, Holi, Pongal, Dussehra, Ganesh Chaturthi, Pongal, Janamasthmi and Shiva Ratri. These innumerable festive occasions lend Hinduism its amazing popular appeal and make the Indian tradition rich and colorful.


 Although Jains believe that God did not create the universe they do believe in God. Our God is Jina. The word Jina literally means "the Victor" or "the Liberator". The followers of Jina are called Jains. Histoians believe that the Jain religion has existed in paralell with Hinduism for about five thousand years.     Top

Jainism was made popular and propagated by Mahavira in the sixth century B.C.Mahavir was a prince and his childhood name was Vardhaman. Being the son of a king, he had many worldly pleasures, comforts, and services at his command, but at the age of thirty he left his family and royal household, gave up his worldly possessions, and become a monk in search of a solution to eliminate pain, sorrow, and suffering from life. Mahavir spent the next twelve and one half years in deep silence and meditation to conquer his desires, feelings, and attachments. 

Mahavira established a monastic community of both nuns and monks.  He was the last of the spiritual lineage of the twenty-four Tirthankars-the teachers of Jainism who  taught a path to religious awakening based on renouncing the world by practice of strict religious austerity. At the age of 72 (527 BC), Lord Mahavir attained nirvana (death) and his purified soul left his body and achieved complete liberation.     Top

The doctrine of karma occupies a significant position in the Jain philosophy. At the heart of right conduct for Jains lie the five great vows: Jainism places a special emphasis on "ahimsa" or non-injury to all living beings. This concern for life is extended to all creatures, even minute microbes that are not visible. Some rigid Jains are seen with white muslin cloths over their mouths to keep out flying insects, and they are encouraged to use small brooms to gently sweep away living creatures from their path, so as to not accidentally crush them.     Top

Jains celebrate their religious holidays by fasting, worshipping, reciting sacred texts, holding religious discourses, giving alms, taking certain vows and other such acts of piety. 

Annual holidays are observed based on the lunar calendar. The two are most important religious holidays are  Mahavir Jayanti: the birthday of Lord Mahavir, the last Tirthankar (April).Paryushan (Swetambar) and Das Lakshan (Digambar): prayers, meditation, fasting, penance, introspection, confession, and forgiveness (August or September) mark eight or ten days in a year.   Top

Zoroastrianism & Parsis IN INDIA 

Zoroastrianism is an ancient religion founded by Zarathustra. Zarathustra was the first prophet to preach a monotheistic religion, and He was born in Iran about 8000 years ago. He revealed that there was only one God, Ahura Mazda and that life in the physical world was a battle between good and evil. 

As a young lad, Zarathustra  turned away from worldly pleasures and indulged in worshiping the Ahura Mazda. At the ripe age of twenty, he chose to be a recluse, bidding farewell to family life and stayed in a cave on Mount Ushidaren all alone, where he spent ten years in total isolation. He survived on berries and roots and acquired enlightenment when he had vision of Ahura Mazda. Top

Soon, he had followers like King Vishtaspa of Bactria in eastern Iran and his wife and son, while Zarathusthra continued his preachings, travelling extensively as far as Tibet and China. He died at the age of 77 in the 'fire temple', while praying but left a legacy which was to continue and contribute in a big way to human kind.  Top

The PARSI community in India : Parsees practice Zoroastrianism. The Parsees are concentrated in Maharashtra and Gujarat states, especially in Bombay. Their ancestors migrated from Iran in the 8th century to avoid Muslim persecution. 

The Parsis worship fire and treat it as manifestations of the divinity of Ahura Mazdah. They go to the "fire temple". The Sanjan Atash Behram was the first "sacred fire" of the Parsees in India although it was destroyed and taken to Navsari. Today the fire rests in the new temple at the village of Udwada.    Top

This is a very close knit community. There are many private schools established by the wealthier members of the Parsis. Parsis are known to be very lovable people. The huge Tata industrial empire bears the name of one of India’s most famous Parsi families. Other famous Parsis are Dadabhai Nawroji, Jamshedji Tata, Dr Homi Jehangir Bhabha, Sir Phirojshah Mehta, Sir Dinshaw Wacha and J R D Tata.    Top

The Parsis have several festivals and holidays. The festivals are not marked by grand processions and music, but are meant for introspection and religious discourses. According to the Parsis there are six seasons in a year and a significant festival occurs in each. 

The "Gahambars" as the festivities are called were originally agricultural in nature, but as Zoroastrianism spread far and wide, they took on a religious significance. Some holidays are happy and some are somber in nature.  

Holidays celebrated : Khordad Saal (August / September) ,  Nauroze or Parsi New Year (March) , Jashans, Jamshedi Navroz day, Zarthost Na Deeso (June)   Top


The Bahá'í Faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. Its central theme is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892) taught that there is one God Who progressively reveals His will to humanity. 

Each of the great religions brought by the Messengers of God - Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, Muhammad - represents a successive stage in the spiritual development of civilization. 

The Lotus of Bahapur is the Bahá'í House of Worship in New Delhi built in 1986. It has a distinct shape of a lotus. To the people of India the lotus flower signifies purity and peace, a representation of the Manifestation of God. It is fondly referred to as the "lotus temple".    Top

Baha'i Websites 


Sikhism is one of the youngest of the World Religions, barely 500 years old. It was founded by Shri Guru Nanak Dev in 1469 who laid the basic principles of Sikhism. It offered the people a simple Sikh religion teaching "Oneness of God", whose name is TRUTH. Nine Gurus followed him who all reinforced and added to what was taught by the first Guru. In 1708, the holy book of the Sikhs, The Shri GURU GRANTH SAHIB JI was Proclaimed to be the only Guru by the last Guru, Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. This holy book embodies the philosophy and fundamentals of Sikhism. It is the only holy book of a major religion which was written and authenticated by its founders.     Top

All the fundamentals of Sikhism emanate from the concept of love for God which follows the love of man.  For a Sikh, all human beings are creatures of God and must be treated equally. One must work hard and share one's earnings with the less fortunate which had to be earned by righteous means. One must be always active in mind and body.  Top

Shri Guru Gobind Singh, the last Guru gave the Sikhs a distinct Uniform and appearance so that they were easily recognized. So, in 1699 on the day of Vasakhi April 13, he assembled his Sikhs and baptized five beloved who were brave and obedient to his orders and called this brotherhood - The Khalsa. Also he gave them a new surname "SINGH" (Lion) to be added to their first names. 

He gave them the five symbols and five basic prayers. These saint - soldiers were devoted to mankind. The women were given equal status with men as the new brotherhood had no distinctions of caste, creed, color or sex. The women were to add "KAUR" (Princess) to their names and were to be always protected.    Top

The 5 symbols are necessary for the strength and unity of the religion and also for the value each had. All Sikhs were to have Kesh or uncut hair, a Kanga or the comb to keep this hair neat and clean, Kaccha or the underwear worn as a symbol of agility and readiness for action, Kirpan or sword which is an emblem of courage and adventure to be used for defensive purposes and lastly, Kada or the Steel bracelet to remind the sikh of his bond to the God.    Top

A Sikh is easily recognized by his beard (Uncut and untrimmed ) and uncut hair which he protects with a turban on his head. Sikhs are not allowed to wear caps and have to grow their hair to its natural lengths as it be going against the law of God and nature to cut them.   Top


Islam had its genesis outside India, in what is now Saudi Arabia. Followers of this faith are called Muslims. Islam was basically propounded by the prophet Mohammed. The 2 main sects of this religion are Sunni and Shiite muslims with many other minor sects. The 5 pillars of Islam are - Faith in Allah, Praying -five times a day, Almsgiving, Keeping the Fast and the Pilgrimage to Mecca.   The Koran which means "to recite" in Arabic is the one sacred scriptures of the Islamic faith.  Top

Mohammed, the prophet

Mohammed, the prophet, was born in Mecca in 570 A.D. in a tribe that acted as custodians of the Kaaba with the family business of supplying drinking water to the pilgrims. As Mohammed spoke against the worship of idols, the priests of Kaaba and the merchants of Mecca who depended on Pilgrim trade were angry and plotted against his life and so, he fled to the north to Yathrib, later known as Medina. 

In 630 A.D., Mohammed entered Mecca and destroyed the idols in Kaaba, leaving only the Black stone. This shrine was announced as Sactuary of Allah, the holy spot in Islam. Since then, Moslems at Prayer, wherever in the world they may be, face towards Mecca as they kneel. Prophet Mohammad gave the final form to an already existing religion. Muslims are also referred to as Mohammedans.  Top

The Koran

The Koran which means "to recite" in Arabic is the one sacred scriptures of the Islamic faith. Muslims believe that all 114 of its chapters, called suras, came to Mohammed as revelations from God. It is said Archangel Gabriel inspired Mohammed to recite the earliest verses of Koran. Many of the Koran stories are those of Jewish Christian Bible or tales of old Arabia.  Top

Islam is a noble yet simple religion based on 5 pillars of principal acts of faith as Mohammad preached:  

1. Faith in Allah - One who says from heart "La ilaha illa llah; Muhammad rasulu"llah", means that there is no God but Allah with Muhammad as messenger, is a muslim.

2. Prayer, five times a day - Earth belongs to Allah, God and so prayers should be offered whenever the hours are free for prayers. On Friday noon Prayers, Men and boys are expected to go to mosque if possible where the Imam, officer of the mosque leads the worship and delivers a sermon. Worship is also individual.

3. Almsgiving - A part of the income or as desired, the believer of muslim faith gives away charity to the poor and needy or for the support of the mosque.

4. Keeping the fast of Ramazan - During the ninth month of Muslim year Ramzan, Mohammad received his first revelations and so there is a faith that the Paradise doors open this time when Gabriel came to Mohammad and made him the messenger. The doors of hell are shut and the devils are in chains. Hence, fasting is held from sunrise until sunset during the month.   Top

5. Pilgrimage to Mecca - Religious muslims believe in making a haj or pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime. Only muslims can enter Mecca in common brotherhood as one and follow the rules.   Top

The pilgrimage ritual is as follows :

First, they turn seven times around the Kaaba starting at Blackstone, three times quickly and four times slowly. Every time they pause to kiss or touch it with a hand or stick. Second they go seven times across the valley between the low hills Safa and Marwa. This is for search of water as per religious tales. Finally, they do the greater pilgrimage to the Mount of Mercy, Mount Arafat. From Noon to sunset, pilgrims stand before God and the one who misses it has missed the haj, it is said. Afterwards, the pilgrims spend the night in outside and then have three day feast with a final round of the Kaaba completing the pilgrimage-the greatest joy on earth and a most difficult pilgrimage according to many devout muslims.   Top


Christianity is the world's biggest religion, with about 2.1 billion followers worldwide. It is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ who lived in Isreal. About 2.5% of India’s population are Christians. Christianity arrived in India almost about the same period as it arrived in Europe, meaning about 2000 years ago. Christianity originates in Israel. The first Christians were Jews and in the beginning Christianity was seen as a Jewish cult. Most of the Apostles of Christians acted in Europe to convert the Europeans to Christianity. But one of the Apostles, St. Judas Thomas, arrived in India and converted Indians to Christianity. St. Thomas was a carpenter and a disciple of Jesus. He was brought to India by a merchant to build a temple. St. Thomas arrived in Kerala, in south India in 52 AD. He succeeded in converting local Indians to Christianity.

The Portuguese were the first European power to arrive in India. Their first ship, under the leadership of Vasco DaGama, arrived in south India in 1498 after it had circled the whole continent of Africa. The Portuguese inspired by the Pope’s order to baptize people around the world not only fought wars against the local Indian rulers, but they even tried to enforced their Roman Catholic prayers on Syrian Christians.

The major centers of Christianity in India are Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Manipur and Mizoram. There is also a big community of Christians in Mumbai. The main division of Christians in India is like in the Christian world, Protestants and Catholic. There are also different denomination among them, Syrian Church, Armenian Church, Anglican Church and others. Most of the India Christians were converted by the Portuguese. There is also an Anglo-Indian community in India.

Christian Pilgrimage Centers in India
Basilica of Bom Jesus - Goa
The church of Bom Jesus, "Good" or "Infant" Jesus, is known principally for the tomb of St. Francis Xavier. In 1946, it became the first church of India to be elevated to the status of Minor Basilica. One of the richest churches in Goa, it is covered with marble and inlaid with precious stones and paintings depicting the life of St. Francis Xavier. The basilica, where the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier are kept, is the best specimen of baroque architecture in India. St. Francis's body was brought to Goa almost 150 years after his death. It was a gift from Medici, Cosimo III, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. It now lies in an airtight glass coffin, placed inside a silver casket fashioned by a 17th century Florentine jeweler. The chapel attracts large numbers of visitors every year.

Other famous churches are : 

The Church of St. Cajetan, Goa
Christ Church & St. Michael's Cathedral, H.P.
Church of St Francis of Assisi, Goa
Church of the Sacred Heart, New Delhi
Santa Cruz Basilica, Kerala
Cathedral Church of St. Thomas, Mumbai
Little Mount, Chennai (Madras)


Buddhism in India began with the life of Siddhartha Gautama (ca. 563-483 B.C.), a prince from the small Shakya Kingdom located in the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal. Brought up in luxury, the prince abandoned his home and wandered forth as a religious beggar, searching for the meaning of existence.

Eventually, under a tree in the forests of Gaya (in modern Bihar), he resolved to stir no farther until he had solved the mystery of existence.

Breaking through the final barriers, he achieved the knowledge that he later expressed as the Four Noble Truths: 

  1. All of life is suffering
  2. The cause of suffering is desire
  3. The end of desire leads to the end of suffering
  4. The means to end desire is a path of discipline and meditation. 

Gautama was now the Buddha, or the awakened one, and he spent the remainder of his life traveling about northeast India converting large numbers of disciples. At the age of eighty, the Buddha achieved his final passing away (parinirvana ) and died, leaving a thriving monastic order and a dedicated lay community to continue his work. 

By the third century B.C., the still-young religion based on the Buddha's teachings was being spread throughout South Asia through the agency of the Mauryan Empire (ca. 326-184 B.C.; see The Mauryan Empire, ch. 1). By the seventh century A.D., having spread throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia, Buddhism probably had the largest religious following in the world.

There was a decline in the following of Buddhism due to the lack of followers, but Buddhist revival began in India in 1891, when the Sri Lankan Buddhist leader Anagarika Dharmapala founded the Maha Bodhi Society.[19] Its activities expanded to involve the promotion of Buddhism in India. In June 1892, a meeting of Buddhists was organized at Darjeeling. Dharmapala spoke to the Tibetian Buddhists and presented a relic of the Buddha to be sent to the Dalai Lama.

The forms of Buddhism practiced by Himalayan communities and Tibetan refugees are part of the Vajrayana, or "Way of the Lightning Bolt," that developed after the seventh century A.D. as part of Mahayana (Great Path) Buddhism. Although retaining the fundamental importance of individual spiritual advancement, the Vajrayana stresses the intercession of bodhisattvas, or enlightened beings, who remain in this world to aid others on the path. Until the twentieth century, the Himalayan kingdoms supported a hierarchy in which Buddhist monks, some identified from birth as bodhisattvas, occupied the highest positions in society.

Buddhism in India

Most other Buddhists in India follow Theravada Buddhism, the "Doctrine of the Elders," which traces its origin through Sri Lankan and Burmese traditions to scriptures in the Pali language, a Sanskritic dialect in eastern India. Although replete with miraculous events and legends, these scriptures stress a more human Buddha and a democratic path toward enlightenment for everyone. 

Ambedkar's plan for the expanding Buddhist congregation in India visualized Buddhist monks and nuns developing themselves through service to others. Convert communities, by embracing Buddhism, have embarked on social transformations, including a decline in alcoholism, a simplification of marriage ceremonies and abolition of ruinous marriage expenses, a greater emphasis on education, and a heightened sense of identity and self-worth.



Web www.CuisineCuisine.com



Guest Book      Contact Us     Rate Us


Advertising Info    Disclaimer    Viewing Tips   

Click   if you would like to save this page in your favorites folder for later.

Copyright © CuisineCuisine.com All rights reserved