India, right from its independence, has been a secular nation. The state does not impose its religious views on the people and each individual has his or her own freedom to practice any religion they wish to. In spite of the fact that about 80% of the total Indian population practice Hinduism, India is not a Hindu nation and yet, people from each and every community live in harmony with each other irrespective of their religious views. Religion in India is one of the most talked about topics.
However, quite lately, people have started tagging India as ‘intolerant’ on religious grounds. The hype of intolerance was created by many intellectual people and the cry defamed India globally. However, the facts and analysis beg to differ from the cries of the Intolerance gang. Here are some facts which depict the greatness of India as far as religion is concerned.
#1: 4 Major religions were born in India:
4 Major religions of the world were born in India. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, which are followed by over 25% of the world’s population, have their roots in our country. Every religion in India is interlinked. India has given birth to more religions than any other country has!
#2: The Muslim population in India:
We all know that Islam and Christianity are 2 of the most followed religions in the world. However, even though only about 14% of the Indian population practice Islam, India has the 2nd largest Muslim population in the world with 172 Million people in India following Islam. This is one of the most interesting demographic facts pertaining to religion in India.
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#3: Number of mosques in India:
India has most number of mosques in the world. There are more than 3,00,000 mosques in India, which is more than any other country in the world. This shows that religion in India is all about freedom given to the people by the country.
#4: Judaism in India:
Judaism, the religion practiced by the Jews, arrived in India more than 2500 years ago. Since then, not even a single incident of anti-Semitism has been recorded from the local population. Even though it is one of the least followed religion in the world, it is the most peace friendly religion in India. India, thus, has been friendly to each and every religion.
#5: Refugees in India:
India has provided shelter to at least 3,00,000 refugees who have come to India to seek asylum in order to escape from religious persecution. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhist, has also taken refuge in India since years and he runs his government from Dharamshala, India.
#6: World’s first granite temple:
The world’s first granite temple was built in India. It is called the Brihadeswara temple, located in Tamil Nadu. The shikara of the temple is built with a single 80-tonne piece of granite. What is even more significant is that the temple was built in just 5 years; between the 1004 AD and 1009 AD! Apart from this, India is known to be a hub for many distinct and beautifully created temples and holy monuments.
#7: The Golden Temple:
Over 100,000 people are fed in the Golden Temple in Amritsar every day. The people here are fed irrespective of the religious beliefs they follow. Several other temples in India follow this practice of feeding the poor, irrespective of their religion, cast, creed, race, color, gender, etc.
#8: World’s largest religious pilgrimage destination:
India is home to the world’s largest pilgrimage destination in the world. An average of 30,000 people visit the Vishnu Temple in the city of Tirupathi. The temple was built in the 10th century. The most striking feature about this temple is that, it receives donations worth $6 Million (US) everyday! That makes it the richest temple in the world.
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#9: The leaders of India:
India is perhaps to only country to have leaders practicing different major religions of the world. India has had a Muslim President, APJ Abdul Kalam, a Sikh Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and several Hindu Presidents and Prime Minister. The leaders of India are chosen irrespective of their religious practices, even though majority of the Indian population follows Hinduism.
This special blend of religions and traditions make India one of the most special places to live on earth. Immense spirituality can be gained in Hindu temples, mosques and churches. As far as religious diversity is concerned, it can be safely said that India is the most diversified nation in the entire world; and yet, people here live together with immense love, peace and in harmony.