Scriptures for Hindu religion:
Hinduism is not a religion in the normal sense, but it is a set of traditions and beliefs evolved over a long period of time. There are different sects of Hinduism, but they all admire the ancient scriptures called Vedas. Upanishads are more philosophically inclined Vedic texts. The ancient Indian scholars called Rishis' search for the knowledge, that would make man kind to be free from the cycle of reincarnation can be seen in Upanishads.
Central themes for Hindu religion
The fundamental concept of Hinduism is the belief in the ultimate reality called Brahman (universal soul) and its identification with the Aatman (individual soul). All creatures go through a cycle of birth and re-birth. The status of the being in each birth is determined by the principle of Karma. This can be broken only by self realization, and the being is said to be attained Moksha (liberation).
Gods of Hindu religion
The ultimate God is supposed to be Brahman, the absolute reality, which is formless and infinite. For the sake of worshipping the infinite reality with the limited human minds, Gods had been personified and associated with different attributes. The most worshipped Hindu deities are Shiva, Vishnu and Shakthi (Devi).
Mythology for Hindus
The roots of the Hindu mythology lie in the Vedic civilization. But the major sources of Hindu mythology are epics like Mahabharata, Ramayana and Puranas.
A large section of Hindus are advocates of vegetarianism, even though it is not made compulsory in Hindu tradition. Cow is considered to be a holy animal.
Themes and symbols:
Tilaka and Bindi: Hindus traditionally wear a mark on their forehead and other parts of the body, in different forms. Hindu women wear a decorative dot on their forehead, which is called Bindi. Sometimes Hindus wear holy ash called Vibhuti also.
Aum is the sacred symbol which represents the absolute reality, Brahman. This can be seen in all mantras and prayers. It represents God in its three aspects- Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Another noble and auspicious symbol is Swastika, which stands for purity of the soul. The four directions, which had been shown in the symbol, represent four Vedas and their harmonious existence.
There exist six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy. They are:
■Uttara Mimamsa (Vedanta)
Non Vedic schools are called Nastika. The schools that enrich Hinduism today are Yoga, Purva Mimamsa and Vedanta.
Practices of Hindu Religion
Hindu religious practices generally include seeking an awareness of God as well as and looking for blessings from different Gods. Hinduism has developed several practices that can help one to relate himself with the divinity.
Hinduism is actually based on idol worship. Hindus worship the idols of their Gods and Goddesses at the temple or at their home. For Hindus, visiting temples are not indispensable. In fact many of them visit temples during religious festivals only.
Hinduism is associated with many symbols and icons and these symbols get their meanings from mythology, scriptures and cultural traditions. Every symbols and icons have a sacred implication.
There is one more thing that most of the pious Hindus utter during worshipping, that is Sanskrit “Mantra”. “Mantra” is actually an invocation to God including prayer, praise, devotion and dedication and through its sound and chanting style, it takes one’s mind to the holy and divine thoughts.