Responsibility, Belonging & Community

The sense of belonging can come from subscribing to a particular religion or sectarian movement of a religion. The sense of belonging can be enhanced by participating in religious ceremonies and festivals. A bond can be built with a temple organisation or a religious teacher. Most Hindu families will subscribe to a particular sectarian movement and may have their personal gurus or swamis on whose guidance they lead their lives.

A Hindu may wear certain traditional dress, such as a sari for a woman, or a tunic and loin cloth for a man. A Hindu may also show his allegiance to a particular movement by marking his or her forehead with a mark called a tilak.

The sense of belonging is enhanced through family get-togethers to celebrate festivals, or participate at weddings or other religious ceremonies, also through visiting the temple for worship or special celebrations. Families travelling together for pilgrimages or visiting religious personalities create a sense of belonging.

It is through such shared belief systems and participating in rituals that the individual feels connected with his family, community and faith tradition. Performing certain activities together such as singing hymns or listening to religious discourses, helps enhance the sense of belonging. Religion is no longer seen as something abstract but something tangible.

The sharing of religious ideas and practices makes the individual feel part of a greater whole. It offers a sense of security in the here and the here-after. Sharing a religious ethos generates visible cohesion in the family and in the greater society. A sense of belonging comes naturally in the Hindu tradition which promotes the idea of seeing oneself in others. Swami Vivekananda said, ‘They alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive!

An individual is expected to put into practice the belief system he or she adheres to. This can be through:

1.  ritualistic practices like daily worship, visiting temples, going on pilgrimage, celebrating festivals and participating in religious ceremonies like rites of passage;
2.  adopting some of the recommended dietary practices,
3.  living by the codes of conduct promoted by specific sectarian bodies.

Commitment can be identified by observing the extent to which the devotees put into practise some of these ideas. Most Hindu sectarian movements offer a great deal of flexibility on what they call externals: ritualistic practises, dress and dietary codes.

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