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.