Family and Community

Hindu families usually have a shrine area within their homes. An image of the family deity is kept on a raised and decorated platform, and one of the family members usually carries out a daily puja or worship ceremony.

Young children in the family are told the colourful stories of Hinduism as a way of introducing them to the religion. Families may also visit the mandir or temple to catch darshan or sight of the deity, particularly during festival times. This is one of the ways in which the community comes together to practise its faith and create a sense of collective identity. All can participate in communal singing and chanting, listen to recitations from the scriptures and perform or watch plays that re-enact stories of various deities and saints.

The performance of rites of passage, such as the wedding ceremony and the naming of a child, is a way of sanctifying and celebrating transition in life. These are called samskaras and are another way that families express their religious commitment.

Putting religious ideals into practice within the family or community will no doubt have impact on the wider society. Values that arise naturally within Hinduism such as the importance of family, respect, disciplined life-style, when put into practice will impact the greater society. They are bound to be acknowledged, appreciated, and adopted by the greater society.

As well as providing the individual with a sense of identity, belonging to a family and community of faith can help nurture spiritual values which can be integrated in daily life. Religion can become a source of strength and guidance during his lifetime. It can give the individual direction in life and comfort in death. It nurtures higher ideals and aspirations in life.

Family and community faith have been passed down the generations through tradition. The preservation and practice of various elements of faith give it a great deal of authority and importance and fosters continuity. When these traditions and rituals become mechanical and meaningless they lose their potency. It is necessary to recognise that as society evolves, many of these practices need to evolve with time in order for them to continue to benefit its practitioners.

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