What is common between Punjabis and Tamils

Religion in india

Sikhism

This religion was founded in Punjab by Guru Nanak in the early 16th century. It is heavily influenced by Hinduism and some teachings of Islam. The Sikhs are known for their dynamism, tolerance and entrepreneurship. They make up only 2% of the Indian population and are mainly located in Punjab State and Delhi. The golden temple of Amritsar is the largest Gurudwara (Sikh temple) in the country with a beautiful and surprisingly calm atmosphere. This welcoming community offers common dining rooms for everyone in Gurudwara with the aim of fighting the caste system. About 4 million Sikhs also live abroad. There are five signs that distinguish the brotherhood of Sikhs:

  • Kesh: long hair; They never cut their hair and they also have a beard.
  • Karha: A metal bracelet around your wrists.
  • Kirpan: A small dagger that you always carry with you to defend the poor.
  • Kangha: a comb
  • Kachha: underpants

Sikh women do not wear the traditional sari, but rather the "salwar kameez" or long tunics over pajama pants. Note that the Sikhs are the few men who are not subject to the rule of wearing helmets on two-wheelers.

Islam and the Sufi Current

Muslims make up 14% of the Indian population. With 150 million Muslims, India has the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. Mostly following the Sunni tradition, Muslims inhabit various Indian states, but are the majority in the states of Jammu and Kashmir. The legacy of the Mughal Empire in North India is spectacular. In the most beautiful monuments in the country you can admire the fine art and architecture of the Mughals. During the same period, Sufis also arrived in India. These Muslim mystics are spreading the spiritual message of Islam. Some of these leaders were buried in India and their sanctuaries are called "Dargah". The best known is that of Nizamuddin Auliya in New Delhi. The rites performed during a pilgrimage are a mixture of prayers, offerings, and mystical songs that have put some in a trance. An annual festival of Sufi music and arts is held in Rajasthan.

Introduction to Christianity

Christianity was introduced to India by the Apostle Thomas in southern India and first developed in the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The time of the Christian missionaries began with St. Francis Xavier in the 16th century during the Portuguese presence. Then other Protestant evangelism missions arrived during British rule. Christian communities appeared in northeast India later in the twentieth century. Conversion to Christianity was offered as an opportunity to escape the caste system for the most disadvantaged such as untouchables and tribesmen. One of the largest charities was founded by the Christians: Mother Teresa's mother house in Calcutta. Today the Christian community makes up 2.3% of the Indian population.

Introduction to Jainism

Among all the mosques, churches, and monasteries, have you ever noticed anything that matches the sophistication of Jain temples? This rather discreet community is famous for its magnificent temples, all of which are carved out of marble. Their lifestyle comes close to a certain asceticism. This religion, which is as old as Buddhism, has no god. The Jains are content to live with constant efforts not to harm any other form of life. You attach particular importance to hygiene in life. For example, you are strictly vegetarian and do not drink alcohol. It is forbidden to enter a Jain temple while on your period or wearing leather. Jains have a tremendous respect for insects. The Jain population in India is estimated at 0.4% of the total population.

Introduction to Buddhism

The amazing history of Buddhism shows how, ironically, it was born in India before spreading to the rest of Asia and then disappearing from its country of origin. Today only 0.8% of the Indian population is Buddhist. Gautama Siddhartha was born in Lumbini in what is now Nepal in the fifth century BC. He lived protected in his palace until he was 29 years old. When he finally left the house, he discovered three great scourges of life: sickness, old age and death. Completely overwhelmed by this fact, he decided to end his comfortable lifestyle and look for a solution to this death. He achieved enlightenment at the age of 35. He then went on a mission to pass these truths on to his followers so that his word could be spread across the country. The cities of Bodhgaya and Sarnath are important Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

A closer look at Om

Om, the calming syllable, is found in several religions. Think of it as some sort of oriental amen. In Hinduism, Om stands for the Hindu trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). In yoga and meditation it is the symbol of the original and absolute sound that holds all the vibrations of the universe. It is also used as a suffix for mantras like "Om Mani Padme Hum" for Buddhists. In Hinduism, "Om Namah Shivaya" is one of the most popular mantras.

A closer look at sadhus

The strangest character that you will inevitably meet on a trip to India is the "Baba". These sadhus can be defined as lonely wandering ascetics who have chosen to live in rejection and isolation. They usually congregate in large sacred cities like Varanasi or in remote corners of the Himalayas. It is difficult to tell a true Hindu sadhu from a spiritual beggar. One thing is certain, however: they wear saffron-colored clothing, and their beards and hair can be very long. Several currents are represented by these sadhus. Those who pray to the god Shiva cover their bodies with ashes and wear dreadlocks to look like their favorite god. You may also have drawn three horizontal lines on the forehead with ash.

A look at bindis

You will quickly notice the small point that several Indian women wear between their eyes, precisely at the points of the 6th chakra. The bindi symbolizes the mythical third eye. There are many different forms. Traditionally it is made of red velvet, but there are different patterns these days with rather fancy things that glow to different degrees. We find a number of other symbols such as the bindi, they are called tilak and are often worn on the forehead and drawn with colored powder at the end of a Hindu prayer. Don't confuse bindis with another brand found on married Indian women: the red line drawn through their hair. It's a tradition that has evolved over the years as a symbol of marriage. This sign stands for a symbolic ritual in a traditional Hindu wedding.

An overview of turbans

The smile, the mustache and the turban are timeless attributes of the Indians! For the Sikhs, the turban is one of the five characteristic features of their religion (kesh). They fight a lot abroad for their right to wear their turbans under all circumstances. In Rajasthan, the turban is still very common. These elegant turbans are available in multiple colors and contrast with the men's traditional clothes, which are often white. A turban, made of a long fabric about 8 meters long, is proudly worn as a royal headdress.

Bright colors indicate different information about each occupation, religion, caste and other aspects of the turban wearer. It also has symbolic meaning, for example, the groom's turban is imprinted with branches of the sacred tree, which symbolize love. During a cremation, the mourners often wear white turbans (white is the color of mourning). In Rajasthan the shepherds wear a red turban, people of higher castes wear turbans, which are disguised with princely decorations. In all cases, turbans are often considered to be respectable men.