(Last Updated on : 06/05/2009)
Religion has always been an integral part of society in Indian villages since the ancient period. Out of these numerous religions, there are a few that are followed by people all over India and some religions are restricted to certain regions. India's most ancient religion, Hinduism is the principal religion in almost all the villages of India and has the highest number of followers. The religion is in practice since the ancient period and has seen many changes so far. Besides Hinduism, the other major religions followed in the Indian villages include Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, etc. Apart from these major religions, there are also many tribal religions followed by the tribal communities in the villages of India.
People in the villages of India remain engaged in various types of religious practices on a regular basis. Most of the villages in India have a temple of the village deity and the villagers believe that the village deity will protect them from any kind of natural calamity or other threats. The villagers also established sacred places within their home and often use an entire room as a place of worship. They worship the gods and goddesses and follow various religious customs and domestic rituals as well.
Hinduism is the principal religion in Indian villages. It is followed by people in most of the villages in India and is predominant in the villages of Himachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan etc. Islam is the second most-widely practised religion in the villages of India. India is home to the world's third highest Muslim population and a major portion of this population lives in the villages. The largest populations of Muslims live in the villages of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, etc.
The third most-widely followed religion in Indian villages is Christianity. It is followed by a large number of Indian villagers, who are mostly concentrated in parts of South India, Konkan Coast, North-East India and Central India. The villages of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in South India and Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya in North-East India have the highest populations of Christians in India. Buddhism is another major religion followed by the people in the villages of India. It was propounded by Gautama Buddha and villages in the states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tripura, Sikkim, etc. have the highest populations of Buddhists in India.
Sikhism is a young, indigenous and monotheistic religious philosophy followed by many people in the villages of India. The philosophy was propounded by Guru Nanak. The religion has its highest populations living in the villages of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, etc. It is followed by Indian villagers in the other parts of the country as well. Apart from Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, etc. there are also a few other religions in Indian villages. These include Jainism, Zoroastrian religion, etc. There are also a few tribal religions in Indian villages that are followed mainly by the tribal communities. Almost all the tribal communities living in India have their own religious philosophies; however, the Santhal religion is the most widely followed amongst them. The Santhal religion is mostly followed by the tribal communities living in the villages of Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal.
Besides the above mentioned religions in Indian villages, the people also sometimes inhabit a world full of divine and semi-divine beings. They believe in tree spirits (Yakshas), ghosts (Bhootas) and also in puranic, local, personal or ancestral gods. Snake veneration is also an important part of religious beliefs in Indian villages. As a whole, it can be said that religions in Indian villages are a great mix of diverse beliefs and philosophies. The Indian villagers live together without much trouble, in spite of having such a huge diversity in their religious beliefs. The Indian villages are really the biggest examples of "unity in diversity".