“In religion, India is the only millionaire… The one land that all men desire to see and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the world combined”. – Mark Twain
India is a vast reflection of the diverse culture, different languages, myriad discovered and unknown talents and utterly beautiful religions that our land holds.
Religion in India is the key to understanding our society, its functioning and its way of lifestyle. The major religions in India are Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. According to the 2011 census, 79.8% of the population of India practices Hinduism and 14.2% adheres to Islam, while the remaining 6% adheres to other religions (Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and various indigenous ethnically-bound faiths). Christianity is the 3rd largest religion in India.
If we trace the history of religions in India, we are likely to find that Hinduism is the fundamental root of Indian culture. Indian philosophy, architecture, cuisine, festival, standard of living are somehow greatly influenced by Hinduism.
Islam first came to the western coast of India with Arab traders as early as 7th century AD to coastal Malabar and the Konkan-Gujarat. The Arab merchants and traders became the carriers of the new religion and they propagated it wherever they went.
No matter how different we were from each other, every religion followed a similar consistency and hence got spread throughout the nation.
Indians are free spirited. We burst crackers at Diwali, hug each other during Eid, sing carols during Christmas and the same crowd goes to Gurudwara to enjoy the meal of Langar. The difference in our beliefs unites us more than creating barriers.
Our Indian cuisine is a beautiful combination of delicacies that different communities have to offer. The Indian wardrobe is a chaos of different traditions coming together, making us one of its kind.
Where the dissimilarities that our Nation is built of fascinate us, it also gives rise to conflicting mindsets.
There has been a consistent clash among different religions since partition. The religions though always spread the message of love, peace, and brotherhood but the way the idea of religion was projected by us among the society, it gave birth to religious differences. The politicians have used the name of God and religion to create discrepancy among the peaceful mindset of the preachers of the same. Vote bank politics and the so-called messenger of the Almighty influence people against other religions. And sometimes the heterogeneity within the different communities in India leads to hatred, violence, fights and disturbances.
A lot of political observers and philosophers of India are often surprised that India still stays as a single nation as many of them have predicted India to fall apart immediately after Independence and the Partiton. They were too taken aback by the diversity. And that is what we need to understand that India is an enormously unique and incredible country just because of the unity that we possess despite the rich cultural and religious differences.
Underlying the marauding chaos and apparent diversity, India has an extraordinary consensus and homogeneity underneath.
Although, religion affects every aspect of our life and society in some way or the other and it solely depends on us that whether we let the beauty of this uniqueness separate us or unite us.