With more than a billion adherents, Hinduism is the world's third largest religion. The vast majority of Hindus, approximately 1 billion, live in India. Other countries with large Hindu populations, such as Nepal, Mauritius and the island of Bali, can be found in various parts of the world.
4 Customs and traditions
4.1 Ethnic and cultural fabric
4.2 Hindu ceremonies, observances and pilgrimages
5 Sixteen sanskars (rituals)
The word Hindu is the Persian name of the Indus River (Sanskrit Sindhu), which flows in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. The Persian term was further loaned into Arabic as Al-Hind referring to the land of the people who live across river Indus, and into Greek as Indos, whence ultimately English India. By the 13th century, the Persian loanword Hindustān emerged as a popular alternative name of India amongst Muslims and the Urdu speaking people, meaning the "land of Hindus".
Originally, Hindu was a secular term which was used to describe all inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent irrespective of their religious affiliation. It occurs sporadically in some 16th-18th century Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava texts, including Chaitanya Charitamrita and Chaitanya Bhagavata, usually to contrast Hindus with Yavanas or Mlecchas. It appears in South Indian and Kashmiri texts from at least 1323 CE, and increasingly so during British rule. It was only towards the end of the 18th century that the European merchants and colonists referred collectively to the followers of Indian religions as Hindus. Eventually, it came to define a precisely religious identity that includes any person of Indian origin who neither practiced Abrahamic religions nor non-Vedic Indian religions, such as Jainism, Sikhism or Buddhism, thereby encompassing a wide range of religious beliefs and practices related to Sanātana Dharma.
One of the accepted views is that ism was added to Hindu around 1830 to denote the culture and religion of the high-caste Brahmans in contrast to other religions. The term Hinduism was soon appropriated by the Hindus in India themselves as they tried to establish a national, social and cultural identity opposed to European colonialism in India.
This section may stray from the topic of the article. Please help improve this section or discuss this issue on the talk page. Main article: History of Hinduism
Sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet is regarded as the spiritual abode of Shiva.
Three major movements underpinned the naissance of classical Hindu thought: the advent and spread of Upanishadic, Jaina, and Buddhist philosophico-religious thought throughout the broader Indian landmass. Mahavira (24th Tirthankar of Jains) and Buddha (founder of Buddhism) taught that to achieve moksha or nirvana. Buddha went a step further and claimed that the existence of a Self/soul or God was unnecessary. Buddhism peaked during the reign of Asoka the Great of the Mauryan Empire, who unified the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century BCE. After 200 CE several schools of thought were formally codified in Indian philosophy, including Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Purva-Mimamsa and Vedanta. Charvaka, the founder of an...