RE Coursework Section B - Hinduism

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Hinduism Coursework

Section B

A Mandir is a Hindu place of worship. It can also be used as a social centre where activities such as dancing and games take place. Birth and wedding ceremonies are also held in certain Mandirs. They may also be used for education, teaching languages such as Gujerati and Hindi. The original use for Mandirs in India was for religious worship, not for ceremonies. However in Britain as Hinduism is a minority religion there is not enough space to have dedicated ceremony buildings so they must all be done in the Mandir. Where as in India the main religion is Hinduism so many other ceremony buildings can be built especially for each ceremony. In Britain Mandirs are used for: Social activities, ceremonies and social activities. Therefore the three main functions of a Mandir are:

  • Religious Importance
  • Social Importance
  • Educational Importance

Religious Importance

A Mandir is important to Hindu’s without a shrine at home because it gives them an opportunity to worship their deities and also socialize with the Hindu Community. It is also helpful for people who do have shrines at home, as there may be many distractions and the Mandir can provide a quiet place to go and worship in peace. As some people also find it hard to concentrate at home, the Mandir can help them focus on worship as everyone else is also worshipping so they can concentrate easier than at home where they could be distracted. There are three different forms of worship. This includes:

  • Havan
  • Arti
  • Bhajan

Havan involves offering small offerings/sacrifices to the Gods/Goddesses. A small fire will be lit by the priest in front of the Murti using wood and ghee. Passages of the Vedas are read while wood and ghee are added to keep the fire burning. There are prayers there are prayers for purity offered to the main deities. The fire symbolises God, the divine light. Worshippers believe the sacrificial fire purifies and is a means of obtaining blessings from God.

Arti is the worship of light performed by the priest. This is important to Hindus, as they believe God is divine light. The priest blows a conch shell at the start and end of the ceremony. He also rings a bell attracting the deities’ attention and calling people in to pray. Special offerings of incense, fire and water are made to the deities. Next the priest lights five small candles on a tray. The Gods and Goddesses are worshipped by waving the light in front of the Murti. It is then taken around t people. They run their hands over the flames and then wipe their hands on their heads. By doing this worshippers symbolically receive blessings and power from the deities. The worshipper may also ask God to purify and enlighten their mind.

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Bhajan – while Arti is performed, everyone sings hymns called bhajans. Some people play instruments like triangles, tambourines and bells. Others just clap along. Parsad is distributed during the bhajans. Parsad is food blessed by the Gods. This food is considered ‘pure’. While worship is being done in the Mandir, a dot or stripe of powder is given to worshippers on their forehead. This is called Tilak, which indicates that the person has been to worship.  

The atmosphere in a Mandir is very important as it allows people to concentrate. By having other people around them it enables ...

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