HINDUISM

Personal Duties, Family Relationships, Pilgrimage & Festivals

Personal Duties, Family Relationships, Pilgrimage & Festivals

religious studiesHindus believe life has four stages called Ashramas, each with different duties:

Brahmacharyi (the student stage). Hindus should study, show respect to elders and learn the Hindu rites.

Grihasta (the householder stage). This begins at marriage and obligations include hospitality, looking after parents and charitable giving.

Vanaprastha (the retirement stage). This starts after the first grandchild is born and involves moving away from worldly matters, meditation and studying the holy texts.

Sannyasin (the holy stage). Obligations include giving up possessions and working to achieve Moksha (holiness). One way to achieve Moksha is through the practice of Yoga.

Diet

Out of respect for nature and because of the belief that humans can be reincarnated as animals, most Hindus are vegetarians. Hindus also believe that cows are sacred.

Marriage

Hindu weddings vary greatly. They all have a series of stages which can mean a ceremony lasts for several hours. The ceremony is concerned with pairing off a man and a woman for life and with describing the correct ways for a happy married life.

Hindu wedding

Birth

The first ceremonies relating to birth happen while the baby is still in the womb. The Punsavana ceremony happens at the third month of pregnancy and is designed to protect the unborn child. The second ceremony is at the seventh month of pregnancy and includes prayers for the mother and child. Soon after birth comes Jatakarma which welcomes the new baby to the family. The Namakarna is the naming ceremony and the Upanayana (sacred thread) ceremony is performed when the child is about to start school.

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Pilgrimage and Festivals

religious studiesPilgrimage is an important part of Hindu worship. There are three main pilgrimages:

The Ganges River is the holiest of rivers for Hindus and they go there to bathe ritually.

Varanasi is a city on the banks of the Ganges. Hindus believe it is the home of the God Shiva.

Kumbh Mela is a pilgrimage that happens every 12 years and can attract as many as ten million Hindus. It takes place at the city of Allahabad where the Ganges and Jumna rivers join.

Diwali, the Festival of Light, takes place each year and lasts for five days. It celebrates the victory of good over evil with fireworks, sweets and dancing. Holi, the Festival of Colour, celebrates the coming of spring.

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