Hindus worship by venerating religious icons and images called "murtis," and by reciting prayers called "mantras." Hindu worship is simply called "puja," which literally means "honor."Continue Reading
Puja often takes place outside the temple, and it is mostly done individually as opposed to in a communal form of worship. Puja mainly takes place in the home, where Hindus set up a special shrine for their favorite gods and goddesses. A shrine may be as simple as a small picture or statue or a small altar; it can also be big enough to occupy an entire room.
Puja is strictly done three times a day and often with all or most members of the family present. During puja, the names of the gods and goddesses are repeated as well as mantras. Water, flowers, incense and other offerings are also offered to the gods or goddesses during puja.
Puja that is done at home is not as elaborate and ritualistic as the worship that takes place in Hindu temples. Puja in Hindu temples usually involves the ritual bathing of the murtis to purify them, dressing the murtis, invoking the gods or goddesses to invite them to reside in the murtis and offering them food. Murtis are then revealed from behind a screen in an act called "darshan."Learn more about Hinduism
Most Hindus follow a strict vegetarian diet and abstain from meat, eggs, poultry and other food considered intoxicating, such as alcoholic beverages and caffeine. In addition to maintaining a vegetarian diet, many Hindus refrain from eating food that is spicy or sour. Some practitioners, usually the most devout, eliminate onions, mushrooms and leeks from their diets as well.Full Answer >
The dietary restrictions of Hindus vary among practitioners: nearly all abstain from eating beef, and some follow a predominantly vegetarian diet, while others, such as Shaktas, consume meat, provided it comes from animals sacrificed in rituals. Among Hindus, Shaivites and Shaktas have the most lenient diets and may include meat products in their meals, while more conservative Hindu branches such as Vaishna abide by theological rules that dictate permissible and impermissible foods.Full Answer >
Many Hindus do not eat meat because it is considered tamasic, meaning influenced by ignorance. Some Hindu scriptures do not sanction meat, poultry, fish or eggs, although this is open to interpretation, as other scriptures refer to meals involving meat.Full Answer >
The Ganges river is sacred to Hindus because it is considered to be the extension of God, Lord Shiva, and therefore, the river is divine and an image of the higher power. Not only does the Ganges hold this sacred quality, but it is able to provide water and agricultural food for 350 million people, as well as nurture the endangered Bengal tiger and the blind freshwater dolphin, the susu.Full Answer >