Hinduism - A major religious and cultural tradition of South Asia, which developed from Vedic religion


Hinduism is an ancient world religion with no known founder or known date of origin. The term "Hinduism" simply deprives from the word "India" and refers to a wide variety of religious traditions and philosophies that have developed in India over thousands of years. Most Hindus worship one or more deities, believe in reincarnation, value the practice of meditation, and observe festive holidays like Diwali and Holi

Sacred text - The Vedas

Hindu ancient, sacred texts were written in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India. The Vedas are the oldest - about 3000 years old. They are a collection of hymns, prayers and magical spells. The Mahabharata is a story of a war between two royal families. The Vedas are the primary texts of Hinduism,

The are 4 Vedas:

1. The Rig Veda - "Royal Knowledge"

2. The Sama Veda - "Knowledge of Chants"

3. The Yajur Veda - "Knowledge of Sacrificial Rituals"

4. The Atharva Veda - "Knowledge of Incarnations"

Religious traditions

In Hinduism, there are 3 religious traditions:

  1. Shrauta - Shrauta traditions are conservative ritualistic traditions of the historical Vedic religion (in Hinduism), based on the body of a Sruti literature. They are still practiced in India today although constituting a small minority within Hinduism.
  2. Yajna - is a ritual of offerings accompanied by chanting of Vedic mantras (also worship, prayer, praise, offering and oblation, sacrifice) derived from the practice in Vedic times. Yanja is an ancient ritual of offering sublimating the havana samagri in the fire.
  3. Guru-shishya - denotes a succession of teachers and disciples in traditional Indian culture and religions. It is the tradition of spiritual relationship and mentoring where teachings are transmitted from the guru (teacher) to a sisya (disciple)

Core beliefs

  1. Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.
  2. Hindus believe in the divinity of the four Vedas, the world's most ancient scripture, and venerate the Agamas as equally revealed. These primordial hymns are God's word and the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion.
  3. Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution.
  4. Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds.
  5. Hindus believe that the soul reincarnates, evolving through many births until all karmas have been resolved, and moksha, liberation from the cycle of rebirth, is attained. Not a single soul will be deprived of this destiny.
  6. Hindus believe that divine beings exist in unseen worlds and that temple worship, rituals, sacraments and personal devotionals create a communion with these devas and Gods.
  7. Hindus believe that an enlightened master, or satguru, is essential to know the Transcendent Absolute, as are personal discipline, good conduct, purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry, meditation and surrender in God.
  8. Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be loved and revered, and therefore practice ahimsa, noninjury, in thought, word and deed.
  9. Hindus believe that no religion teaches the only way to salvation above all others, but that all genuine paths are facets of God's Light, deserving tolerance and understanding.

In depth of the marriage rite/ritual

  • Vara Satkaarah - Reception of the bridegroom and his kinsmen at the entrance gate of the wedding hall where the officiating priest chants a few mantras and the bride's mother blesses the groom with rice and trefoil and applies tilak of vermilion and turmeric powder.
  • Madhuparka Ceremony - Reception of the bridegroom at the altar and bestowing of presents by the bride's father.
  • Kanya Dan - The bride's father gives away his daughter to the groom amidst the chanting of sacred mantras.
  • Vivah-Homa - The sacred fire ceremony ascertaining that all auspicious undertakings are begun in an atmosphere of purity and spirituality.
  • Pani-Grahan - The groom takes the right hand of the bride in his left hand and accepts her as his lawfully wedded wife.
  • Pratigna-Karan - The couple walk round the fire, the bride leading, and take solemn vows of loyalty, steadfast love and life-long fidelity to each other.
  • Shila Arohan - The mother of the bride assists her to step onto a stone slab and counsels her to prepare herself for a new life.
  • Laja-Homah - Puffed rice offered as oblations into the sacred fire by the bride while keeping the palms of her hands over those of the groom.
  • Parikrama - The couple circles the sacred fire seven times. This aspect of the ceremony legalizes the marriage according to the Hindu Marriage Act as well custom.
  • Saptapadi - Marriage knot symbolized by tying one end of the groom's scarf with the bride's dress. Then they take seven steps representing nourishment, strength, prosperity, happiness, progeny, long life and harmony and understanding, respectively.
  • Abhishek - Sprinkling of water, meditating on the sun and the pole star.
  • Anna Praashan - The couple make food offerings into the fire then feed a morsel of food to each other expressing mutual love and affection.
  • Aashirvadah - Benediction by the elders.

What understanding of God and Religion is shown in the ritual?

The understanding of God and Religion is shown through this ritual when the Rig Vedic Mantra recites vows from the sacred text of the Veda. This vow is considered as a blessing to the newly weds.

God is worshipped as Shakti, the mother of all creation. The rites and rituals of Hindu marriage date back to our forefather Manu. In Manu Smriti it has been laid down that Hindus should conceive of marriage as a union meant for the performance of religious and spiritual duties. It could not take place without the performance of sacred rites and ceremonies.

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What human needs does the ritual satisfy?

An Indian wedding is a symbol of purity, union of two different people, community and culture.

Fire is considered to be so pure, immortal, young and sanctified, it is used as a symbol for the couple to solemnize their marriage with the seven promises. This is called “Agni Sakshi” which means “fire is the witness”. The promises thus made are considered to be immortal and the couple is expected to be MOST truthful and honest to each other in making these promises.

By Era Veseli