India is known for its "Unity in Diversity" and is a country of diverse religions. India with its many religions, cultures and languages is a well balanced country with all religions having equal rights and status. This is one of the main reasons one can find the country has numerous holidays which are given to people so they can celebrate their festivals. Hinduism which is the religion of the majority, coexists with other religions such as Islam, Christianity, which were introduced to the country during the invasions from the Mughals, and the British. Over the centuries, many religions have been born here and have contributed in enriching the culture of India. Traditions and faiths of various religions have thrived with equal importance in this country. Its religious scripts such as the Vedas, Puranas and Samhitas are studied, followed and respected around the world. Since various religions, caste and creed form the genesis of this "Land of numerous Gods", you will find the same diversity and uniqueness in their celebration of festivals, cuisines, literature, art, music, folk dances and lifestyles.
India has a religious culture that goes back to more than 4500 years. The knowledge about the ancient culture and religion in India has come down from generations to generations through various religious texts and literature namely the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Vedic scriptures written during the ancient Aryan period. The Vedic culture was the first religion in ancient India which later on developed into Hindu religion. The term "Hindu" was derived from the name of the Sindhu River which was integral part of ‘Akhand Bharat’ (complete Bharat or India). On the bank of this river, the earliest Hindu civilizations prospered. Apart from Hindu religion, Jainism and Buddhism are the other religions that originated in India during the medieval period. From India, Buddhism spread across the world along with Indian culture and tradition. The ancient monastic traditions of the Buddhists and Jains influenced the art and philosophy of India to a large extent. These religions were also seen as a means of liberation for the lower caste people who had to live secondary life due to caste system in Indian society. As of today, Hinduism is the largest religion in India while other major religions include Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity and Sikhism (started by Guru Nanak in 16th century. Christianity was introduced in India during the time of apostles. Zoroastrianism was introduced by Persian traders who settled on the Western Coasts of India.
According to 2001 Census, religious composition of India is as follows:
Hinduism being the oldest and most followed religion in India. Its tradition and caste differences have a great influence on the Indian society as a whole. This has further made an impact on relationships which are more graded on the basis of hierarchy. Indians are very much connected with their paternal and maternal families. All the relations are given respect depending upon hierarchy. The teachers known as gurus are considered to be source of knowledge and are held in high esteem. Indian society is a patriarch society where father is the head of the family. People in this country are identified by their caste though the caste system has been losing importance due to economic progress and education. There are divisions in each caste system whose traditions are zestfully followed in each household. Still, many families especially in rural areas live under lot of restrictions and have to follow the traditions which at times are very rigid. Great socialists like Jyotiba Phule and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar helped in breaking the shackles of orthodox traditions and in decreasing the caste discrimination.
According to Indian Constitution, this country is a secular republic nation and each citizen has full right to follow his or her religion, freely worship his deity and propagate his faith. In India, freedom of religion is deemed as a fundamental right. Although the past two decades have seen rise in animosity between different religions, even today various religious festivities are celebrated all over the country.