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Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions

Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions
Item Code: IDF075
Author: Prem P. Bhalla
Publisher: Pustak Mahal
Language: English
Edition: 2015
ISBN: 9788122314755
Pages: 325 (Figures: 141)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 9.8" X 7.5"

From the Jacket :

Rites, rituals and customs play a major role in the life of every person, irrespective of religious affiliations. This is more prominent in the case of Hindus. Right from the time of conception and birth, up to a person's passing away and even after it, rites and rituals follow a Hindu at all times, much like a shadow. Indeed, there is some rite, ritual or custom that comes into play for Hindus 365 days of the year.,p> However, unlike other religions where many customs are mandatory, the Hindu way of life is comparatively flexible, with people in different regions following variable customs and traditions. While a monotonous way of life could figuratively kill many people from sheer boredom, Hindu rituals and customs enlien Hindus' daily existence. Besides, they also ensure that in the hustle and bustle of daily life in this materialistic era, people do not lose sight of spiritual goals. Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions outlines all these practices right from the sunrise to the sunset years and makes a most enlightening read for all readers, Hindus as well as non-Hindus.


Modern youth are in a hurry – to grow up, to acquire education, to work and get married, to own a vehicle and a home and, finally, to arrive. Arrive where? Most youth do not know. Nor do they know their ultimate goal in life.

Those who dare answer will tell you that they are trying to make the best of their life. When asked how, they are not sure. They are in the run to find happiness. They seek this happiness from the many comforts available in modern society. But soon they realize the things that ensured happiness yesterday do not do so today. The novelty has faded and everything appears ordinary.

The truth is that mankind is driven by desires, both good and bad. When one is achieved, it leads to another. It is an endless game. Every achievement brings temporary happiness. Every failure brings frustration and a feeling of hurt. Ultimately, one realizes the futility of chasing happiness through desires of the body, mind and intellect.

There are millions of living beings around the world. Of these, life as a human being is the most precious. Did God grant this form so human beings could fulfil their desires endlessly? Could this really have been God's purpose? Hinduism teaches us that God grants life as a human being as a gift to enable a soul to reunite with Him through faith and devotion. Religious texts confirm this. A human being is specially gifted to be able to think, reason and choose a path of action to achieve this purpose.

Since a human being can think, reason and choose, when confronted with diverse situations one tends to choose what is easy and pleasurable. The fault is in choosing what one sees and feels rather than searching for the eternal happiness that already exists within the individual. The Hindu way of life teaches one to make this happiness a part of life. Activities are prescribed from the time of conception until death. One needs to understand and follow them. This book is an effort to bring simple everyday activities to householders who can make material progress worthwhile by combining it with spiritual guidance and fulfillment.

This book would not have been possible without the valuable research done on the subject by Dr Prakash Chandra Gangrade and the permission by Mr Ram Avtar Gupta, Managing Director and Mr. S.K. Roy, Executive Editor, Pustak Mahal, to use the same in this book. I extend my gratitude to them.

About the Author :

Educated in Dehra Dun and New Delhi, Prem P. Bhalla enjoys photography and travel, having traveled widely in India and abroad. Besides running his own business, he is deeply involved with several social welfare and educational institutions. The author has also been involved with the Rotary movement for over 40 years.

Mr. Bhalla has written several self-improvement books and is particularly interested in the welfare of youngsters. The author gives group lectures on personality and career development too. He has also authored Teens to Twenties, The Portrait of a Complete Man, Hello! Just Married or About to Marry, 7 Mantras to Excel in Exams and 50 Moral Tales, as well as co-authored The Book of Etiquette and Manners, all published by Pustak Mahal.




A-1: What is the basis of the life of a Hindu? 11
A-2: Why do Hindus Consider 'Om' sacred? 14
A-3: Why do Hindus offer prayers to Sri Ganesh before a special occasion? 16
A-4: Why do Hindus say God is omnipresent? 20
A-5: What is the Hindu belief about the life cycle of the world? 22
B-1: What is the Hindu view on the man gods and goddesses they pray to? 23
B-2: What is the basis of Hindu religious thought? 25
B-3: What is the Hindu belief about the Navgrah? 27
B-4: What is the significance of the many incarnations of Gods? 31
B-5: What is the significance of making offerings to Shiva and Shivaling? 36
B-6: What is the significance of Shalgram for Hindus? 38
B-7: Why do Hindus specially revere Hanuman? 39
B-8: Why do Hindus pursuing music and learning revere Ma Saraswati? 41
B-9: Why do Hindus working with machinery revere Vishvarkarma? 43
B-10: Why do Hindus fear the influence of Shanidev in their lives? 45
B-11: How did Lord Mahavir influence Hindu thought? 48
B-12: How did Gautam Buddha influence Hindu thought? 51
B-13: What was the influence of Guru Nanak Dev and his successors on Hindu thought? 53
B-14: What is the difference between the national and Hindu calenders? 55
B-15: Why do Hindus hold Yama in fear and awe? 56
C-1: Why do Hindus hold Nature in great reverence? 58
C-2: Why do Hindus consider the Ganga holy and worthy of reverence? 60
C-3: Why do Hindus greatly revere the sun? 64
C-4: Why do Hindus hold the moon in special reverence? 66
C-5: Why do Hindus revere trees? 67
C-6: Why do Hindus consider the Peepal tree holy? 69
C-7: Why do Hindus consider Tulsi the most sacred plant? 71
C-8: Why do Hindus consider the cow sacred? 73
C-9: What is the Hindu attitude towards animals? 76
D-1: Why do Hindus consider the human form of life most valuable? 79
D-2: How are Hindus expected to make their life worthwhile? 81
D-3: What role do rites and rituals play in the Hindu way of life? 84
D-4: What attributes influence the Hindu way of life? 87
D-5: Why is the Hindu caste system often criticised? 88
D-6: Why do Hindus accord great importance to good and bad deeds? 90
D-7: What is the influence of heaven and hell on the Hindu way of life? 93
D-8: What four stages of life does every Hindu pass through? 95
E-1: Why is a Hindu marriage considered an eternal bond? 97
E-2: Why do Hindus attach special importance to the selection of partners? 99
E-3: Does comparing horoscope help find compatible partners? 101
E-4: What is the importance of Roka and Sagai ceremonies? 102
E-5: What ceremonies are performed at a Hindu wedding? 103
E-6: Why is a wedding procession taken to the bride's place? 104
E-7: Why is tying of the knot an important part of the Hindu Wedding? 105
E-8: What ceremony fulfils the religious part of a Hindu wedding? 107
E-9: Why is Saptpadi an essential part of the Hindu wedding ceremony? 108
E-10: What marital vows do the husband and wife take in a Hindu marriage? 110
E-11: What is the purpose of changing seats on getting married? 112
E-12: What is the significance of the husband applying sindoor in the wife's hair? 114
E-13: Why do married women wear a mangalsutra around the neck? 115
E-14: What is the purpose of Shiksha in a Hindu wedding? 117
E-15: What is the concluding ceremony in a Hindu Wedding? 119
F-1: What are Hindu views on conception and childbirth? 120
F-2: What is the purpose of Punsavan Ceremony? 123
F-3: What is the purpose of the Simantonayan ceremony? 125
F-4: Why is the Namkaran ceremony important? 127
F-5: Why do many Hindus perform the Chhochak ceremony? 129
F-6: What is the purpose of the Nishkraman ceremony? 131
F-7: What is the purpose of the Annprashan ceremony? 132
F-8: What is the purpose of the Mundan ceremony? 135
F-9: What is the purpose of a choti? 137
F-10: What is the purpose of the Karnvedh ceremony? 139
F-11: What is the purpose of the Vidyarambh ceremony? 141
F-12: What is the purpose of the Yagyopavit ceremony? 143
G-1: Why do Hindus emphasise a good student-teacher relationship? 147
G-2: What is the importance of Diksha? 149
G-3: What is the importance of Dskshina to the teachers? 151
G-4: How can one attain the true purpose of life? 153
G-5: Why should one rise early in the morning? 155
G-6: Why is the earth like the mother? 157
G-7: Why is pranayam an ideal way to bring the day? 159
G-8: Why is care of parents the best service? 161
G-9: What is the purpose of conveying respect through Charan Sparsh? 166
H-1: Why do Hindus use the swastike on auspicious occasions? 168
H-2: Why should all guests be respected? 170
H-3: Why do Hindus consider chairty as a responsibility towards society? 172
H-4: What is the purpose of fasts for Hindus? 174
H-5: What benefits accrue from Maun-vrat? 178
H-6: Why is the Hindu calendar full of a variety of festivals? 180
H-7: Why are prayers offerend to Ma Lakshmi on Diwali? 184
H-8: Do pilgrimages really benefit people? 186
H-9: Why do Hindus aspire to go on the Char Dham Yatra? 189
H-10: Why are Kumbh Melas celebrated only at four places of pilgrimage? 192
H-11: Are Hindus generally superstious? 194
H-12: Does the 'evil eye' exist? 197
H-13: Do predetermined Mahurats ensure success and happiness? 199
I-1: Is prayer an important element in Hindu life? 201
I-2: Why should one face the east when praying? 203
I-3: What is the importance of the asana we sit upon when praying? 205
I-4: Why are flowers always offered during prayers? 207
I-5: Why is the lotus flower most important to Hindus? 210
I-6: What items do Hindus use at prayer time? 211
I-7: How do Hindus conduct their prayers? 213
I-8: Why do Hindus consider a conch shell auspicous? 215
I-9: Why are Hindus possessive about the rosary they use for prayers? 218
I-10: What is the effect of prayer on an individual? 222
I-11: Why do Hindus chant a variety of mantras during prayer? 225
I-12: Which mantra do Hindus consider most powerful? 228
I-13: Besides the Gayatri mantra, which other mantra is very special to Hindus? 230
I-14: How often do Hindus pray everyday? 232
I-15: Do all Hindus follow a complex procedure of prayer? 234
J-1: How important is group prayer for Hindus? 235
J-2: How important is devotional prayer and singing to Hindus? 237
J-3: Why do Hindus clap when singing devotional songs? 240
J-4: Why do Hindus accord great importance to the name of God? 241
J-5: Why do Hindus revere the Sunderkand? 243
J-6: Why do many Hindus perform the Satnarayan katha periodically? 245
K-1: What are the essentials in religious ceremonies conducted by Hindus? 247
K-2: Why is a coconut used in all Hindu religious ceremonies? 249
K-3: Why is a kalash seen at all Hindu religious ceremonies? 251
K-4: What is the importance of kusha asana for sitting at a religious ceremony? 253
K-5: What is the purpose of sprinkling water at the beginning of a ceremony? 255
K-6: Why is lighting the lamp important at all religious ceremonies? 257
K-7: What is the purpose of tying a red thread on the wrist at the beginning of a religious ceremony? 259
K-8: What is the purpose of the resolve made by the beginning of a ceremony? 260
K-9: Why is tilak applied on the forehead in a religious ceremony? 261
K-10: What is the purpose of aachman at beginning of a ceremony? 263
K-11: Why are offerings made to the Navgrah at the beginning of all religious ceremonies? 265
K-12: Is blowing a conch shell important at religious ceremonies? 267
K-13: What is the purpose of Agnihotra at Hindu religious ceremonies? 269
K-14: What is the purpose of a yagya and offering ahuti? 270
K-15: Why is it important to chant mantras loudly? 273
K-16: What is the importance of charanamrit in religious ceremonies? 275
K-17: What does Panch Mahayagya mean? 277
K-18: Do Hindus practise animal sacrifice? 279
K-19: What is a yantra that's used by Hindus is religious ceremonies? 281
K-20: Why are all Hindu religious activities entrusted to Brahmins? 284
L-1: Why are temples and deities important to Hindus? 287
L-2: Is it true that Hindus have innumerable gods and goddesses? 289
L-3: Why do Hindus ring a bell when they enter a temple? 291
L-4: Does idol worship by Hindus promote religious feeling? 292
L-5: Why don't Hindus perform auspicious ceremonies during Chaturmas? 293
L-6: Why do Hindu gods and goddesses use different animals as vehicles? 295
L-7: Why do Hindus walk around the deity in a temple? 297
M-1: What is the importance of Vanprasth in Hindu life? 299
M-2: What does a Hindu achieve through sanyas? 301
N-1: Why do Hindus cremate the dead? 304
N-2: Why do Hindus immerse ashes of the dead in holy rivers like the Ganga? 306
N-3: Is the soul really immortal? 308
N-4: On what grounds do Hindus assert that the soul is reborn? 309
N-5: Why do Hindus insist upon last rites being performed by the son? 312
N-6: What is the importance of pind daan for the deceased? 314
N-7: What is the purpose of the Shraddh ceremony? 317
N-8: How does tarpan help pleas the deceased? 320
-- : Epilogue 322


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