Hinduism is the main religion of India and Nepal although there are followers in many other countries around the globe, with an estimated one billion adherents worldwide. Hinduism is thought to be one of the oldest living religions, dating back to the early Harappan period (5500 to 2600 BCE).
Hinduism has no single God or founder, scripture or way of teaching the religion. The religion is more a way of life and an amalgamation of different beliefs with close ties to Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. The name Hindu comes from the large river system located in the northwest of Sindhu.
Hindu beliefs are deeply governed by karma, with the cycle of life thought to continue many times over and that the actions of one’s current life have a direct impact on the next incarnation. Meditation and yoga have an important role in Hinduism, with being calm and thoughtful paramount goals.
Things to do when interacting with Hindus/visiting Hindu temples:
- Dress appropriately; no revealing clothing or offensive slogans or pictures on shirts.
- Be respectful of the temple and behave in a quiet and reserved manner.
- Make sure to observe any rules or guidelines posted outside temples and follow them strictly.
- Enter the temple with a positive mindset and devotion to the religion.
- Remove footwear before entering the temple.
- When in the special prayer room it is important to remain completely silent as any conversing is taken with deep disrespect.
- Bring a small donation of food such as nuts, which can generally be bought nearby the temple.
- Be sure to talk to the temple swami as they can offer much information and insight to the religion.
Things not to do when interacting with Hindus/visiting Hindu temples:
- Eat, smoke or chew gum inside a temple or whilst talking to a swami.
- Bring any non-vegetarian food into the grounds of the temple.
- Take any photographs or video of the deities. It is best to ask permission before taking any pictures.
- Some temples will not let you bring or wear any cow leather, so it’s best not to have any leather products (note: this doesn’t apply to all Hindu temples.)