Hinduism is over 4,000 years old, making it one of the world's oldest religions. It is made up of a variety of different religious beliefs and practices. It originated near the Indus River in India. The name 'Hindu' comes from the word Indus.
What do Hindus believe?
Central to Hinduism is the belief in a supreme God Brahman. Brahman is present everywhere and there is a part of Brahman in everyone.
Brahman takes many forms. Especially three forms called the Trimurti.
Brahma is the creator of the world and all creatures. He is usually shown with four heads.
Vishnu is the preserver of the world. His role is to return to the earth in troubled times and restore the balance of good and evil. He has blue skin and four arms.
Shiva is the destroyer of the universe. Shiva destroys the universe in order to re-create it. Shiva has blue skin, a third eye and carries a trident.
Hindus believe that life is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. They also believe that the next life depends on how the previous life was lived.
What are Hinduism's holy books?
Hinduism does not have a single holy book, but many ancient texts and scriptures.
The Vedas - a collection of hymns praising the Vedic gods. Veda means 'knowledge'.
The Ramayana - long epic poems about Rama and Sita.
The Mahabharata - which includes the Bhagavad Gita.
The Puranas - a collection of stories about the different incarnations and the lives of saints.
Where do Hindus worship?
Hindus worship in a temple called a Mandir. Mandirs vary in size from small village shrines to large buildings, surrounded by walls.
People can also visit the Mandir at any time to pray and participate in the bhajans (religious songs).
Hindus also worship at home and often have a special room with a shrine to particular gods.