Kids Assignment Theme for 2011 (January 2011)

What images conjure up in your mind when someone asks you to describe the religious and cultural practices observed in Hinduism? While you may have the most amazing, vibrant and unique pictures in mind, it is often difficult to describe it in words. Hinduism has almost 1 billion followers in the world. It is generally regarded as the world’s oldest organized religion. It consists of “thousands of different religious groups that have evolved in India since 1500 BC.” [David Levinson, “Religion: A cross-cultural dictionary,” Oxford University Press, 1998]

In India, which boasts of one sixth of the humanity, 80% of the population follows Hinduism. In a country where people speak over 120 languages and traditional & spiritual values go back 5000 years and more, it is not only difficult but also nearly impossible to understand the religious beliefs & practices without studying the diversity of individual regions.

In India, religion plays a key role in shaping the culture. It influences virtually every aspect of life in the country. As you go from one region to the other, you will notice that while there is continuity, it has evolved differently. This year, we will study the spiritual and religious roots of Hinduism in different parts of India. Every few months, we will pick a region of India. We will cover how Hinduism is observed in the region, like regional spiritual leaders & their teachings, prominent religious places, key beliefs, common rituals, and cultural practices.