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Hinduism beyond Indian Frontiers: 11 countries with largest Hindu population

Hinduism has over 1 billion followers worldwide, which is almost 15% of the world's population, with over 95% of them living in India

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Hinduism beyond Indian frontiers
A Temple in India. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Hinduism is commonly associated with India, but around the globe, there are several ancient Hindu communities which do not have their origins in the subcontinent. After Christianity and Islam, Hinduism is the third most popular religion on the globe. It has approximately over 1 billion followers around the different countries of the world, about 15% of world’s population. India is called the fountainhead of Hinduism. The reason being, over 95% of the total Hindu population resides in India, while the rest are heterogeneously spread around the remaining countries in the world. Hindu Population is accounted for over 13% of the world’s entire population.

Here is the list of 11 countries with the largest Hindu population:

I. India

India is known as the birthplace of many religions but Hinduism is the most noteworthy one. It is believed that Hinduism began many thousand years ago. India has the world’s largest Hindu population, nearly 94.3% of the total Hindu population live here.Despite being the most Hindu-populated country, India is secular. Hinduism is a major religion of India, with over 80% of the population recognizing themselves as Hindu, which accounts for over 98 crore people in India. The overall population of India believes strongly in the philosophy or the teachings of Hindu culture and traditions. Dispersed throughout the length and breadth of the country,almost all the states including the union territories in India has a large number of Hindu Populace.

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Hinduism is a major religion of India, with over 80% of the population recognizing themselves as Hindu, which accounts for over 98 crore people in India. The overall population of India believes strongly in the philosophy or the teachings of Hindu culture and traditions. Dispersed throughout the length and breadth of the country, almost all the states including the union territories in India have a large number of Hindu Populace.

Hindus at Har Ki Pauri near river Ganges via wikipedia.org
Hindus at Har Ki Pauri near river Ganges via wikipedia.org

II. Nepal

The most common religion in the country with almost 81.3% of the population is Hinduism. It is believed that Lord Vishnu had systematized the people of Nepal and given them their national flag, with the combination of sun and moon as the emblem on it. The national calendar is based on the Hindu solar calendar. The traditions of people in Nepal is similar to that of the people from the Northern part of India.

III. Bangladesh

Hinduism is the second most eminent religion in the country. Casing about 8.2% of the population, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics for 2011 census. According to an official report, the number of Hindus in Muslim dominating Bangladesh has grown by one per cent ,almost 1.70 crores in a year constituting to an increase up to 10.7 percent of the population in 2015. Tradition and customs of the Hindus in the country greatly duplicate that of the Indian state of Bengal.

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IV. Indonesia

Bali is the famous island and province of Indonesia. Unknown to most Hindus in the world, with the total population of 3,112,331- 83.5% of them follows Hinduism. Bali Hinduism is one of the official religions of Indonesia. The Ramayana is a national epic and ‘culture’ in Indonesia, despite being a Muslim dominated nation.

Balinese Puja at a temple via Wikimedia Commons
Balinese Puja at a temple via Wikimedia Commons

V. Hinduism in West Indies (Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago)

Hinduism is one of the paramount religion of the Indo-Caribbean faction.According to a report in 1995, Hindus constituted to over 25 percent of the total population particularly  in Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. Indian religious movements such as Arya Samaj, was extensively backed by the Hindus in Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname. Moreover cast system ,world’s oldest surviving social stratification was systematize by the British in 1850, however it was disregarded and later eliminated by Indo-Caribbean Hindus in the early 20th century .Throughout the history, Trinidad’s population growth came particularly from Indian indentured laborers. According to the year, 2000 census report there were 2,50,760 Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago which constitutes to over 22.49% of its total population and 56.19% of the total population of the Indo-Caribbeans islands.

This is a historic 100-year-old mud temple in Exchange Village, Couva, Trinidad. NewsGram thanks Dr. Kumar Mahabir for providing the picture.
This is a historic 100-year-old mud temple in Exchange Village, Couva, Trinidad. NewsGram thanks Dr. Kumar Mahabir for providing the picture.

VI. Sri Lanka

Hinduism has a long tradition in Sri Lanka. Hindus currently make up for 12.60% of the Sri Lankan population and are almost exclusively Tamils apart from minor immigrant communities from India and Pakistan. Hinduism is mainly practiced in the Northeastern region, mostly by the Tamil population and also some Telegu and Malayalis. The majority of Sri Lankan Hindus follow the preaching of Shaiva Siddhanta.

VII. Philippines

Hindu communities are prominent in the Philippines and have had significant religious and cultural influence in the country dating back to the precolonial period. Hinduism is currently limited to the small recent immigrant Indian community in the country. Although ,some of the natives have also been practicing Hinduism. Yoga and meditation are also popular.

VIII. Malaysia

Malaysia being a multicultural country like India, it hosts about 1.78 million Hindus, almost 6.3% of its total population and most of them settled in the western part of the peninsula. Hinduism is the fourth largest religion in Malaysia. Major Hindu festivals that are celebrated in the country include Diwali, Pongal, Navratri, and Thaipusam. The country also has many Hindu temples although few have been demolished by Malaysian government officials in recent years.

IX. United States

Though Hinduism is a minority religion in states, a significant number of Hindus resides here. Around 1,790,560 people are Hindus, majority of them being Indian Americans or immigrants from Southeast Asia. American Hindus in 2015 accounted for an estimated 0.7% of the total US population.

President of the US Barack Obama receives a red shawl from a Hindu priest from Sri Siva Vishnu Temple via Wikipedia.org
President of the US Barack Obama receives a red shawl from a Hindu priest from Sri Siva Vishnu Temple. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

X. South Africa

Hinduism originated in Africa from the late 19th century onwards through the spread of the colonial rule.The second country with the highest Hindu population in Africa after Mauritius, South Africa has over 1.1% of the total population, Hindus. Most of them are believed to be immigrants from different parts of India. Present-day South Africa has numerous Hindu temples, where they celebrate the ancient Hindu festival Diwali.

XI. United Arab Emirates

Finally, UAE has a lot of Indian residents and almost 21.5 % of the population practices the religion. The total number of Hindus in the country is around 944,352 a lot of them belonging to the business communities.

A 2013 news report indicated that a Muslim businessman contributed five acres of land in Abu Dhabi to build a Swaminarayan temple.

Here is the list of few more countries where Hindus constitute a significant percentage of the total population. However, these countries couldn’t make it to the top due to their low overall population:

  • Mauritius 

Mauritius is a beautiful island nation located in the Indian Ocean , known for its beaches and lagoons. However, this small island also has the highest percentage of Hindus in Africa and third highest percentage in the world after India and Nepal. During the colonial times, the British turned many Indians to contracted labourers. From 1835 to 1910, many such labourers were migrated to Africa by the European traders.They later chose remain in Africa.

Today, Hinduism is the largest religion in Mauritius,according to the 2011 census made by Statistics Mauritius, Hindus constitute to approximately 48.5%, while pew research centre, give an estimate of 56% of the total population of the country!

  • Fiji

A 2004 report suggests over 261,000 Fijians were Hindus then, about 40% of its total population. The Hindu community in Fiji has constructed many temples, educational institutes and community centres over time. These served as venues for cultural functions, marriages, annual festivals and other social events.

The Hindu temples were constructed both in northern and southern Indian styles. For example, the Shiu Hindu temple was built in 1910 in Nadi. The Hindu population in Fiji is heterogeneously distributed. Population in some villages such as Nadi and Nausori area have a majority. Diwali is the primary festival of the year in Fiji.

Sri Siva Subramaniya temple in nadi,Fiji via Wikimedia Commons
Sri Siva Subramaniya temple in Nadi,Fiji via Wikimedia Commons

  • Canada

Canada reminds as the Land of the Rockies, Niagara Falls,skiing and ice hockey.There is yet another thing, this country reminds of temples. Canada has over 90 Hindu temples, 63 of them in the most populous city in Canada (Toronto). According to the Canada 2011 Census report, there were 497,960 practitioners of Hinduism in the country.

– by Yajush Gupta of NewsGram. Twitter: yajush_gupta

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Sins in Hinduism: Facts, Meaning,Philosophy,Types & Atonement

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Sins in hinduism
The sins in Hinduism can be washed away with devotional means. Pixabay.
  • Sin is regarded as an impurity arising in one’s body as a consequence to his own evil deeds. It is an effect that can be neutralised through various practices to lead your life into Moksha or liberation.
  • A liberated being or Jivanmukta is purified of all his sins who does not have to go through any further sins and rebirth. In order to make your soul pure and sinless, practice every deed with God’s grace.
  • The Sins in Hinduism, sinful conduct and their remedies have been referred to in Hindu Scriptures such as in Upanishads, Bhagavadgita, Yoga Sutras, Manu Smriti and Garuda Purana. 

As stated about sins in Hinduism, sin may form up with disobedience to God’s divine laws of Dharma. It may however be difficult to follow, but is considered obligatory for humans. The sins in Hinduism can be forgiven if Dharma is upholded as a service to God through self-effort and pure devotion to God.

Sins in Hinduism
Meditation is considered as the easiest from of removing sins in Hinduism. Pixabay.

What is the meaning of Sins in Hinduism?

The word Pāpam (paap) is often used to describe sins in Hinduism as mentioned in the Vedas and Hindu scriptures. Punyam (punya) is the opposite (antonym) of sin. It does not acquire an equivalent word in English since the concept of sins in Hinduism is different in western culture and Christianity.

Separating the word, ‘Pa‘ means to drink, inhale or absorb. ‘Apa‘ means water, combinedly meaning consuming or drinking impure water or poison. Pāpam also denotes evil, wicked, mischievous, destructive, inferior, corrupt and guilt.

It is believed that the sins of Hinduism manifests in the body with the impurities of worldliness (vishaya-asakti). The human body becomes subject to various poisons (visham) such as egoism, greed, ignorance, selfishness, desires and so on, which emerge with our attachments with worldly things (vishayas). These poisons of sins make the humans to take rebirths and deaths until they are removed completely. In the Hindu culture, Lord Shiva is regarded as the destroyer and the healer who gets invoked by devotees prayers and can remove or destroy such poison or sins to grant them liberation.

Sins in Hinduism
The sins in hinduism have been depicted in the scriptures. Pixabay.

What is the Philosophy of Sins in Hinduism?

The sins appear from physical, mental or oral actions, due to the impurities or poisons pertaining to Dharma and Hinduism. The poison of sin is stimulated if one harms intentionally to others or oneself by way of pain and suffering continuing the cycle of rebirth and death.

The repurcussions of sinful acts or karma are fault or mistake (aparadha), worry or anxiety (cintha), impurities or imperfections (doshas), evil intentions (dudhi), evil qualities (dhurta lakshana), immorality (adharma), demonic nature (asura sampatti), chaos or disorderliness (anrta), mental afflictions (klesha), destruction (nirtti), karmic debt (rna), sorrow (shoka), darkness or grossness (tamas) and suffering (pida). Others include: inferior birth, birth through demonic wombs, downfall into hells, increased suffering to ancestors, adversity, loss of reputation.

Sins in Hinduism
Visit Pilgrimage shrines to erase your sins in Hindusim. Pixabay.

What are the types of Sins in Hinduism?

The Dharmashastras of the Hindu scriptures denote sin as Pātaka which represents the causes of one’s downfall or destruction (patanam).The following are the three types of sins in Hinduism: Mortal Sins (Mahapatakas), Secondary Sins (Upa Patakas) and Minor Sins (Prakirna or prasangika Patakas)

The Mahapatakas

These are the gravest and darkest sins in Hinduism leading to the worst downfall of the mortals into the darkest of hells. They can neither be neutralized or washed away without suffering. Some Puranas and Vedas indicate to devote oneself purely to God to remove such sins. The Dharmashastras have stated such five gravest sins termed as the Pancha Mahapatakas. In Hinduism,the company of sinners is also not advisable as associating with sinners will lead you to the same consequences.

The Upa Patakas

These secondary sins may emerge out of minor offenses that include incompetency to perform sacrifices regularly, displeasing the Guru, selling harmful and intoxicating drinks, disbelief in God, giving false witness, making false acclaims, and performing a sacrifice for an unworthy person or unworthy cause and engaging in illicit sex.

The Prakirna Patakas

These type of sins in Hinduism form the minor offenses committed intentionally or unintentionally out of ignorance or carelessness which can be removed or washed away by performing sacrifices (prayaschitta) or by punishments and requesting forgiveness. The law books regard more than fifty minor sins in Hinduism such as selling the wife, making salt, studying forbidden Shastras, killing a woman, marrying the younger son before marrying the elder one, killing insects and other creatures, ignorance to parents, accepting gifts without performing sacrifices,adultery etc.

What are the solutions to overcome Sins?

Fines and punishments

The Dharmashastras render both corporeal and monetary punishments for various offenses or sins in Hinduism, apart from the sufferings in hell or rebirth. According to Hindu scriptures, the ancient era saw immense difference in the application of punishments from caste to caste.

Confession

The best path to deal with sins of Hinduism is to surrender yourself infront of God and seek forgiveness with your own confession of the sin committed. The king was regarded as a similar figure to God who demanded a public confession (abhishasta) from the sinner.

Austerities and Atonement

By performing Vedic traditional rituals, the sins in Hinduism are removed by fasting, virtuous conduct, self-control, practice of nonviolence, truthfulness, austere living, practice of silence, concentration and meditation.

Sins in Hinduism
Your sins in Hinduism can be removed by Devoting yourself to the grace of God. Pixabay.

Rituals and sacrifices

The Vedas have recommended various rituals or sacrifices to wash away the the impurities (dhosas) arising from one’s birth, karma, relationships, place or direction related issues, vastu defects, dangerous diseases and evil conduct.

Prayers and Mantras

Vishnu Purana of the Hindu scriptures pronounce the effective importance of the continuous chanting of names of God (japam) in the Kaliyug. Some mantras and hymns are considered more significant than meditation and sacrifices to clean the impurities of the body.

Recitation of the Vedas and other Sacred Books

Knowledge (jnana) has the eternal power to remove the sins in Hinduism. It can be derived with regular reading up and learning from the scriptures of sacred importance.

Visiting pilgrimages

To grant your devotion and gratitude, Hinduism seeks to commit to Dharma by visiting holy pilgrimage place. It is a divine form of self-cleansing and experiencing peace and happiness.

Bathing in the sacred rivers

The sacred pilgrimages are mostly located near the banks of the rivers that are also treated as purifiers. Hence, bathing in those rivers lead your life into devotional worship as a purification rituals to overcome sins in Hinduism.

Yoga and Meditation

Pranayama and meditation are the suggested methods to practise peace and overcome past sins. They also form a major part of the austerities to cleanse the internal mind and body.

The blessings of saints and gurus

Saints, sadhus and mahatmas have been given a special status in Hinduism because of their respectful purity and virtue. They acquire divine knowledge and supreme powers, with which they cleanse those who approach them for blessings.

Sins in Hinduism
Worshipping the saints remove the sins in hinduism. Pixabay.

Virtuous conduct

Sinful karma can be countered with huge efforts into virtuous karma. The sins in Hinduism are washed away with kind and healthy conduct to everyone equally.

Charity

Dana (gift giving) or charity is very significant in Hindu Dharma. By conducting sacrifices and spiritual practices one must conduct charity as well. As a part of Vedas, the higher castes are under obligation to perform five daily sacrifices including offer food to gods, ancestors, sages, humans and creatures.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism
Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

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Paintings Which Beautifully Depict Scenes From Ramayana

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Ramayana
Ram lifting the bow during Sita Swayambar. Wikimedia Commons.

Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic which describes the narrative of Ayodhya Prince lord Rama’s struggles. The struggles include- exile of 14 years, abduction of his wife Sita, reaching Lanka, destruction of the evil. It is strongly ingrained in the Indian culture, especially, the Hindu culture since a long time. Hindus celebrate Diwali based on the narratives of Ramayana.

The story of Ramayana gives out the beautiful message that humanity and service to the mankind is way more important than kingdom and wealth. Below are five paintings describing the scenes from Ramayana:

1. Agni Pariksha in Ramayana

Ramayana
Agni Pariksha. Wikimedia.

When Lord Rama questions Sita’s chastity, she undergoes Agni Pariksha, wherein, she enters a burning pyre, declaring that if she has been faithful to her husband then the fire would harm her. She gets through the test without any injuries or pain. The fire God, Agni, was the proof of her purity. Lord Rama accepts Sita and they return to Ayodhya. 

2. Scene From The Panchavati Forest

Ramayana
scene from the panchavati forest. wikimedia.

The picture describes a scene from the Panchavati forest. It is believed that Lord Rama built his forest by residing in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the river Godavari, a few miles from the modern city of Mumbai. He lived in peace with his wife and brother in the forest.

3. Hanuman Visits Sita

Ramayana
Hanuman meets Sita. Wikimedia.

Hanuman reaches Lanka in search of Sita. At first, he was unable to find Sita. He later saw a woman sitting in Ashok Vatika, drowned in her sorrows, looked extremely pale. He recognized her. After seeing the evil king, Ravana making her regular visit to Sita, he hid somewhere in the Vatika. After Ravana left, Hanuman proved Sita that he is Rama’s messenger by showing her his ring. He assured her that Rama would soon come to rescue her. Before leaving Lanka, he heckled Ravana. Agitated by Hanuman’s actions, Ravana ordered to set Hanuman’s tail on fire. With the burning tail, Hanuman set the entire city on fire.