The Religions of India
All About
India has had a long tradition of practicing many religious beliefs. Several of the world's most important religions began in India and several others large numbers of followers in India.  Hinduism and Islam have the largest number of believers, but Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism are all practiced in India.

Hinduism began in India more than 3,000 years ago and is practiced by a majority of Indian people. Hindu followers believe that human beings go through many births and rebirths before finding their final life form or salvation. The many gods and goddesses of Hinduism are all forms of Brahman, which is creation itself.

 Hinduism for Kids
 More About Hinduism 
 See video on Hindu belief in reincarnation

Islam is the second most common religion of India and is followed by about one out of every ten people. Islam came from the writings of the Qur'an or Koran, a book of the teachings of Mohammed. 
Muslim is the name that is used for the followers of the Islam religion. Muslims believe in one God (Allah) and follow  five rules or pillars: faith, prayer, giving to the poor and to religious scholars, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, and if possible, making a hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca once in the believer's lifetime.
Islam for Kids
 About Islam
Indian Christianity is said to have begun with the arrival of St. Thomas the Apostle in 54 AD. Today, about 2% of Indians practice Christianity, and the country also has a small Jewish community.
Christianity for Kids
 About Christianity

Sikhism was founded 500 years ago by Guru Nanak, who intended to bring together the best elements of Hinduism and Islam. Sikhs believe in one God, are opposed to idols and the caste system, and practise tolerance and love of others. Sikh men bear the amritsar or five symbols of their faith, including uncut hair covered by a turban, steel bangle and a small, ceremonial sword.
More About Sikhism

Other Religions
Both Buddhism and Jainism arose in the 6th Century B.C.E. in India as responses to Hinduism. Buddhists do not worship gods, but strive to free themselves from desire, which is thought to be the cause of all suffering. By following the teachings of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (563-480 B.C.E.), one can free oneself from the cycle of death and rebirth. Jains practise reverence for all life. They are vegetarians and try to avoid taking any life, however large or small.

 Religions in India


Hindu believers in India believe cows are one of the forms taken by the Hindu god Brahman.  In large cities like New Delhi, cows may move about freely in the streets, sometimes decorated with bells and jasmine. About 
40 000 cows live in the city of Delhi along with the 13 million people who make a home there.

Watch the PBS video, Holy Cow;speed=160;mediatype=video;media=;playertemplate=%2Fwnet%2Fnature%2Fmedia_player%2Fplayer.html;helptemplate=%2Fwnet%2Fnature%2Fmedia_player%2Fplayer_help.html;title=Hinduism%27s%20Sacred%20Animal;description=To%20India%27s%20millions%20of%20Hindus%2C%20the%20cow%20is%20a%20holy%20animal%20that%20cannot%20be%20harmed.%20%20Since%20the%20faith%20first%20evolved%20near%20Asia%27s%20Indus%20River%20more%20than%203%2C000%20years%20ago%2C%20respect%20for%20animal%20life%20has%20been%20a%20central%20theme%20in%20Hindu%20life.%20%20Watch%20how%20the%20cow%20is%20revered%20in%20modern%20India.%20;basepath=%2Fwnet%2Fnature%2Fholycow%2Fvideo.html;prefchange=1
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