INDIA, home to a billion people of many different faiths, exemplifies unity in diversity. For Indians, religion, like tradition, is an integral part of life; it is not distinct from every day living. Secular India is home to Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and several other religious traditions. Hinduism, the dominant faith, is practiced by over 80% of the population. Besides Hindus, Muslims are the most prominent religious group and after Indonesia, India has the second largest population of Muslims in any country.
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Because religion is a way of life, religious festivals are the very mainstay of celebrations in India, and all major events are celebrated within a religious context. Kinship bonding in India is very strong, with an enormous respect for family, community values and traditions. It is but natural that celebration of festivals is not within a personal space but in a spirit of bonhomie within a larger cultural context, which readily crosses religious divides. While each religious community has it's own pilgrimage sites, heroes, legends and even culinary specialties, there are many places of worship and several legendary heroes who transcend the invisible barrier between religions to become a celebration of the universality of human living.
Compiled by Romola Butalia
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.