has a positive kaleidoscope of religions. There is probably more diversity of
religious and sects in India than anywhere else on earth. Apart having nearly
all the world's great religions represented here, India was also the birthplace
of two of the world's greatest (Hinduism & Buddhism), an important home to
one of the world's oldest (Zoroastrianism), and home to an ancient religion
unique to India (Jainism).
is the name given to a family of religions and cultures that began and still
flourish in India.
Like other Eastern religions, it doesn't fit comfortably into the same box as
Western religions like Christianity.
Hindus do not separate religion from other aspects of life. For Hindus in India,
Hinduism is an inextricable part of their existence, a complete approach to life
that involves social class, earning a living, family, politics, diet, etc., in
addition to the things Westerners view as religious.
The word "Hindu" comes from the name of the river Indus,
which flows 1800 miles from Tibet through Kashmir and Pakistan to the sea.
Originally the name referred to people living in a particular region of the
world, regardless of their faith; so in the 18th century someone could quite
sensibly be described as a "Hindu Muslim".
There are 750 million Hindus in the world, and most of them live in India. In
the UK there are 400,000 Hindus, 160,000 of whom are active in their faith.
Hinduism includes a very wide range of beliefs and practices, so there aren't
many things that are common to all Hindu groups. However they all have a "family
resemblance" to each other.
Hinduism has no founder, no creed, and no single source of authority.
The things most often common to Hindus are a belief in a single Divinity or
supreme God that is present in everything, belief in other gods who are aspects
of that supreme God, belief that the soul repeatedly goes through a cycle of
being born into a body, dying, and rebirth, belief in Karma, a force that
determines the quality of each life, depending on how well one behaved in a past
Most Hindus worship at home and have a shrine there. Hindu temples are the focus
of religious life, but there is not a strong tradition of corporate
Hinduism has not had a significant tradition of seeking to convert people,
although some modern Hindu sects now do seek converts.
is the youngest of the world's four great monotheistic religions. It was founded
in the 15th Century by Guru Nanak.
view that Sikhism is a variety of Hinduism is completely wrong, and gives great
offence to Sikhs.
are 18-20 million Sikhs in the world, and 80% of them live in the Punjab state
in Northwest India, where the faith began.
are 500,000 Sikhs in Britain, 80% of whom are active in their faith. 39% of UK
Sikhs attend a religious service at a Gurdwara (temple) once a week.
countries with large Sikh communities are Canada (225,000) and the USA
word "Sikh" is Punjabi for "disciple"
and Sikhs are disciples of the Gurus.
men are particularly easy to identify because they all have a full beard, and
wear their hair uncut and contained in a turban.
Sikh place of worship is called a Gurdwara or temple.
does not have priests, but most gurdwaras will have a Granthi. A Granthi is a
learned Sikh who is skilled in reading the scriptures, however, a Granthi has no
special religious status.
principle Sikh scripture is the Adi Granth, often called the Guru Granth Sahib.
believe that the words of these scriptures are the present day embodiment of the
Sikh Guru and they treat the book with the respect and devotion that they would
have given to a human Guru.
does not actively look for converts, but it is thoroughly welcoming to those who
do want to convert.
is a religion practised by nearly 2,000 million people worldwide.
It originated in Palestine in the 1st century AD and is founded on the life and
teachings of Jesus Christ [4BC-29AD], a Palestinian Jew.
There are 6 million active Christians in the UK, but over 35 million in Britain
would regard themselves as nominally Christian.
There are many different variations or "denominations". The
major division is between Orthodox and Western Christianity (which itself is
divided into Roman Catholicism and Protestantism).
From the beginning, Christianity has sought to convert people, however, many
Christians today feel there should still be respect for what is good and true in
other cultures and religions.
Islam is the
world's second most followed religion.
It began in its present form 1400 years ago in Arabia, but swiftly become a
world faith, and now has around 1,200 million adherents.
There are between 1.2 and 2.6 million Muslims in the UK, about 600,000 of whom
are active in the faith. Those who are not active still regard being a Muslim as
an important part of their identity.
"Islam" is an Arabic word which means surrendering
oneself to the will of God, and achieving peace and security by doing so.
A person surrenders to the will of Allah by living and thinking in the way Allah
Islam is more than a system of belief. The faith provides a social and legal
system and governs things like family life, law and order, ethics, dress, and
cleanliness, as well as religious ritual and observance.
The countries with the largest Islamic populations are in Asia rather than the
These are Indonesia (170 million), Pakistan (136 million), Bangladesh (105
million), and India (103 million).
However, Islam's two holiest places, the cities of Mecca and Medina, are both in
Buddhism is a
vast and complex religious and philosophical tradition which stretches back over
Over the last 30 years Buddhism has seen growth in the West as its non-dogmatic
nature, rationality, possibility of a spiritual guide, and opportunity for
personal transformation have all made it attractive to post-modern society.
It has about 500 million adherents around the world-45,000 active Buddhists in
'Buddha' means 'one who has woken up'. Most people live
asleep, never knowing or seeing life as it really is. As a consequence they
suffer. A buddha is someone who awakens to the knowledge of the world as it
truly is and so finds release from suffering.
A Buddha teaches out of sympathy and compassion for the suffering of beings and
for the benefit and welfare of all beings.
Buddhism does not actively look for converts, but it is thoroughly welcoming to
those who do want to convert. Buddhism can coexist with other faiths.
is the oldest of the world's four great monotheistic religions. It's also the
smallest, with only about 12 million followers around the world.
The Holocaust of the 1930s and and 40s transformed Jewish demographics-if the
Holocaust had not occurred there would now be between 25 and 35 million Jews in
the world, and far more of them would live in Europe.
Most Jewish people in the world live in Israel or the USA. The largest European
Jewish community is in France.
There are 285,000 Jews living in the UK. Only 85,000 of them are active in their
faith, but virtually all the others still regard being Jewish as a vital part of
Judaism does not seek converts. Those who convert to Judaism must undertake the
observance of Torah (Jewish Law), including, if they are men, circumcision.
are small Jewish communities in a number of cities i.e. Kochi, Mumbai, Kolkata
further information and reservation please contact