Elacqua, Joseph, et. al. "Hindu Practices." Faithology.com. Faithology, 4 March 2013. Web. 29 July 2014.

Elacqua, J., et. al. (2013, Mar 4). Hindu Practices. Faithology. Retrieved from http://faithology.com/practices/hinduism

Elacqua, Joseph, et. al"Hindu Practices" Faithology, LLC. Last modified March 4, 2013. http://faithology.com/practices/hinduism

Elacqua, Joseph, et. alHindu Practices. Faithology, LLC, 2012. http://faithology.com/practices/hinduism (Accessed Jul 29, 2014).

  • Clothey, Fred W. Religion in India: A Historical Introduction. London: Routledge, 2006.
  • Flood, Gavin, ed., The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003.
  • Jones, Constance A. and James D. Ryan, eds. Encyclopedia of Hinduism. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007.
  • Last Updated: March 4, 2013
  • Originally Published: July 18, 2012
  • Hindu Practices

Introduction

The Hindu religion is composed of a variety of ritual practices that are utilized in order to foster an intimate bond between the Hindu people and their spirituality. The Hindu religion provides a wide variety of ways by which Hindus are able to access and strengthen this bond.

Hindu Practices

A yajna is performed during a Hindu wedding ceremony

The vast majority of Hindu adherents—Vaishnavas, Shaivas, or Shaktas—worship their deities by using devotional practices, known as bhakti. These practices, which emphasize a bi-directional sharing of every aspect of one's life with a deity (or deities), have become standard in modern Hinduism. Devotional practice is often related to the act of meditation, in which a practitioner concentrates intently on a deity in order to further the relationship between devotee and deity.

The worship of Hindu deities may also involve a literal or figurative sacrifice, often know as yajna, which has been a crucial element of Hindu culture since its earliest days. Today, most sacrifices are symbolic in nature, although blood sacrifice is still practiced in order to honor some Hindu deities.

A number of other ritual practices have become part of the Hindu religion. One of the main practices involves subsisting on a vegetarian diet. This practice ties in with the doctrine of ahimsa, which dictates that no harm may be done to other living beings. Even though some Hindus eat meat, this is largely relegated to chicken, lamb, and goat meat. Beef is eaten only in the rarest of occasions, due to the sacred supremacy of the cow in India. Even beef-heavy fast food chains in India do not serve meat, often substituting water buffalo meat in its place.

Hindu ritual practices also include a large number of samskaras, or rites of passage, for all children, especially males. Samskaras include major ceremonial events such as marriages and funerals, but also less significant events such as the first time a child eats solid food. For each child, these samskaras are practiced from the time of conception up to and after the discarding of one's ashes after death.

An alternate path to worship in the Hindu tradition is largely practiced by Shaiva groups. This path tends to emphasize extreme self-denial, called asceticism, often practiced in the wilderness. Those that practice asceticism are also generally practitioners of yoga or other esoteric techniques. Ascetic, yogic, and similar esoteric practices are sometimes regarded as a source for attaining siddhis, or occult abilities such as flight.