Hinduism in India

Hinduism is the most common religion in India, with more than 85% of the population being Hindu. As students visiting Manipal University, we immediately noticed how Hinduism plays a large part in the every day life of the people in Manipal, Udupi. Hinduism has no single founder, scripture or common set of teachings. They do, however, worship a number of deities. Hindus believe in being reborn, which is governed by Karma, and we have noticed most villagers are very honest and respectful.

One of our first days here we visited Sri Krishna temple, which is a very famous temple in this region of India. Krishna is one Hindu deity who is recognized as an avatar of the god, Vishnu. He is often displayed as a young man with a blue face playing the flute. The temple was elaborate and beautiful. We took our shoes off to enter the temple among many other Hindus who worshiped and prayed to Sri Krishna. The temple even housed an elephant!

Another Hinduism tradition we noticed after spending time in the villages for our community health rotation. Outside many of the houses was a plant called Tulsi. The Tulsi plant is “holy basil” and is believed to be a manifestation of the goddess Tulsi. Hindus offer the leaves in ritualistic worship of Vishnu or Krishna. Hindus worship the plant every morning and evening and can also be used as an herbal remedy.

We have also observed cows roaming the street, untouched. Hindus respect and honor cows and regard them as sacred. Killing a cow, or any animal for that matter, is considered a sin. Therefore, beef is never seen on any menu in Udupi. Mahatma Gandhi is known to have worshiped the cow.

A second Tulsi plant seen in the village

A second Tulsi plant seen in the village

Cows are sacred in Hinduism

Cows are sacred in Hinduism

Image at Sri Krishna Temple

Image at Sri Krishna Temple

sri krishna 2

Tulsi plant outside of a villagers house

Tulsi plant outside of a villagers house

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Posted in Global Health, India Scholars 2015
2 comments on “Hinduism in India
  1. Peter Cahn Peter Cahn says:

    What great exposure you’ve had to a different culture! Have you seen any examples of how religion informs Indians’ understanding of health?

  2. Kayla Nebbitt Kayla Nebbitt says:

    Hi Peter,

    Great question! Religion, particularly Hinduism, plays a significant role in Indians’ view on health care and treatments. Karma plays a huge role in healthcare. For example, we have seen many patients with mental health illness and have been told that people try and hide their illness since there is a huge stigma behind it. Hindus believe in Karma from previous lives’, therefore many believe that mental illness is a result of bad Karma from a past life. This belief does not help enhance and support treatment of those with mental illness in India.

    Hindus also believe that actions from past lives can affect the medical health in the present life. Someone who develops disease at a young age or dies young can be a result of negative actions in the past and can be considered the Hindus destiny.

    Pain is also seen as a consequence of bad karma from a past life which may affect pain management. However, we have not personally seen a case where pain was not treated properly.

    Hindus observe many holy days and worship many deities and fasting plays a part in their worship. Hindus do not have to fast while in the hospital, but many still will.

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