Travel in Rajasthan, India
A Rajasthani Kid is playing "Ek Tara"
Thar Desert Jaisalmer in Background, Rajasthan, India

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Art & Culture -- »Religion

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Religion has always played a very important role in the lives of Indian people right from medieval times. Numerous religions practiced by Indians can sometimes bewilder the visitor but a general understanding and tolerance has always existed and accounted for the wonderful cultural unity that has kept the Indian spirit alive. What is true for rest of India is true for Rajasthan as well. Almost all the major religion are represented here. Apart from the Hindus, that form a majority, there are Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains etc.

With its roots going beyond 1000 BC, Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world and there is a belief that we all go through a series of reincarnations and our rebirths are determined by our karmas, until we attain Moksha. The central figure is the Hindu trinity of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. Vishnu the Preserver is believed to have come on Earth in ten Incarnations – the popular one being Lord Rama and Lord Krishna, the heroes of Ramayana and Mahabharata. These are two major sources of Hindu’s belief and observance and are based on historical, legends, myths and folklore. Of equal importance to Hindus are the Vedas, the oldest written religious texts in the world, the Upanishads and the Puranas. These form the basis of Hindu religion.

Rajasthan also has its share of myths and folklore. Custom that had to do with social welfare was promoted and kept alive over the years in the form of rituals and still religiously followed. Several folk heroes are worshipped and one can see hundreds of simple shrines in every village. Stones are painted and established in tiny temples under trees and near wells. Folk heroes like Pabuji, Gogaji, Baba Ramdeo, Harbhuji and Mehaji are revered. All form of nature is worshipped and each area has its own local deity. Some of the major temples and important religious centers like Pushkar, Nathdwara, Deshnok, Amer exist in this state.

Founded by Lord Rishabh and reorganized by Lord Mahaveer (born in 599 BC)it is one of the oldest living religions of the world. The fundamental Principles of Jainism are Ahimsa, Aparigraha, Anekant and the law of Karma. The Jains have built some of the most exquisite temples in Ranakpur, Mount Abu, Shri Mahaveerji, Osian, Jaisalmer, Chittaurgarh and other parts or Rajasthan.

The largest minority in India, Muslims are followers of the Prophet Mohammad who was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 570 AD. The world’s greatest sufi shrines—that of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti---- lies in Ajmer. Another pilgrimage center is the Atarki Dargah, the tomb of Hamiuddin Nagauri at Nagaur.

There is also a large majority of Sikhs and Christians who have merged with other communities to give Rajasthan a cosmopolitan flavour.

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