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A Tour of Religions

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Our  Secret Church 16 prayer focus is the country of India. During the month of May, we will focus on prayer for India’s persecuted church and unreached peoples. You can go to prayingforindia.org to find out more. Many of the world’s major religions can be found in India. Three of the largest religions are Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism. The photos below give you a glimpse of what these religions look like in some parts of India. As you see the different places of worship, take time to pray for these people who are following someone other than the One True God. 

Hinduism


Hinduism is the largest religion in India, with over 800 million Indians following some form of the religion. Many Hindus worship gods at small shrines every day, and often multiple times a day. These shrines can be to any of the 330 million Hindu gods and are found all over the place–in homes, on the sidewalks, near trees, etc. People bring flowers, food, and other offerings to these shrines to gain favor with the god or goddess it represents. They pray and seek blessings from the idols. 

Hindus worship more than 330 million gods and goddesses. Hindu temples are often dedicated to one or a few gods with idols that depict the characteristics of the gods. In the Hunaman temple in Delhi, a Hindu woman worships the god Shiva, depicted in the statue above. Shiva is known as one of the three major deities.

A famous place for Hindus to worship is along the banks of the Ganges River. This photo was taken in Varanasi, a city known for preserving India’s cultural and religious heritage. At the Ganges, several platforms, called “ghats,” with steps leading into the water align the bank. Various rituals and ceremonies like the one above occur on these platforms. Hindus frequent these places searching for blessings and hope from the river goddess or other gods they worship. Throughout India, Hindu worship happens at other rivers that are thought to be holy rivers where the gods pour out blessings.

Islam


India has more than 130 million Muslims. One of the five pillars of Islam is prayer to Allah five times a day. Muslim men in India often gather at mosques to perform their rituals and complete their prayers. Indian Muslims wear small round hats like the ones seen above. 

Gathering at the mosque is an important part of Indian Muslims’ social and religious lives. In the photo above, Muslim men and women gather at a mosque and shrine for prayers and worship. 

Sometimes India’s religions look very similar. At first glance, you might think this is a Hindu shrine. However, in this photo, Muslim men decorate the shrine of a revered Muslim Sufi saint called Nizamuddin Dargah. Muslims often come to this shrine near the mosque to pray around the body of their respected leader. 

Sikhism


Sikhism is one of the world’s youngest religions with over 19 million follwers living in India. In this photo, men and women come to the Sikh temple to pray while Sikh musicians play music. Instead of a formal worship service, this time of prayer is a come-and-go type of personal reflection. 

Followers of Sikhism come to the temple to wash in holy water. Sikhs believe that the sacred waters will cleanse them from impurities both physically and spiritually. Many believe the waters have healing powers. 

Sikhs are often very charitable toward other people as a part of their quest for holiness. In this temple, Sikhs serve thousands of meals every day to anyone who wants to come. Those who enjoy the meal often volunteer to serve or clean up the dishes. 

There are many more things we could learn about the religions of India. What surprised you? What captured your attention? Take a moment to pray for people in India who follow these religions. Ask that they will hear the truth about Jesus and would gain eternal life. 

— To learn more about ways you can be praying for the needs of the peoples of India, go to prayingforindia.org. Join us in praying for India throughout the month of May.

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