Religious Field Research

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Report on Religious Field Research

Report on Religious Field Research
As I thought about this paper, I wanted to explore a religion that I had little knowledge about so I chose Hinduism. In thinking about what little I previously knew about the Hindu religion my knowledge was very limited indeed! In this paper I will discuss what I have done in order to learn more about Hinduism. I will discuss any misconceptions I may have had and how they have changed. Also, I will try to figure out a way to minimize misconceptions. Discuss any misconceptions you had about the religion you researched. Prior to this class, I had not thought about religion very much. Growing up in the Midwest I had experiences with various Christian religions, those primarily being Catholic and Protestant. Occasionally, a friend or a family member would introduce me to the Jehovah’s Witness sect of religion. However, I had almost no exposure to Judaism, Hindu, Islam or any other of the more non-American based religions. They were just different religions and I considered them as foreign as the countries from which they originated! And frankly, it never concerned me that I did not know much about Hinduism, because I wasn’t interested in learning about their religion. Through some encounters either through movies or reading, I was pretty sure that this was the primary religion of India. I believed that the religion involved the worship of animals, more specifically cows. I also believed that women were not respected as much in this culture, but I am not sure if this was religiously based or cultural issues. In order to understand Hinduism, I participated in a few virtual worship services. It was interesting to see thousands of people in the audience. The altar was also very interesting; there was a huge screen with a picture of a woman astride a cow, there were a lot of flowers surrounding the altar. A religious leader dressed in an orange or red robe and a special hat, was seated in a huge ornate chair and he was reading and speaking what I assume were prayers. Since they were speaking in a foreign language, I was unable to understand the words. People were sitting on the ground or perhaps on rugs of some sort. They would clap occasionally or respond vocally in response to what was said. People would come forward to accept a lei of flowers and they would offer respect to the leader by bowing to him and perhaps kissing or touching his robe or feet. In other services that I watched, men and women would come forward and speak to the crowd. The Holy leader would do certain rituals at the altar and some people in the audience would clap quietly to a rhythm. Then the people would put their hands together in a prayer symbol of some kind. I did not see any women in the audience at certain times, but they were there at other times. I watched several segments of the Solan Samagan Day 2.4, May 13, 2012 at 1:05 PM. Samgam Day 2.2, May 13, 2012 at 12:03 PM. It seems that on this day there were several sections to this service. They started at 8:42 AM, then 10:39 AM, then 12:03 PM, and finally 1:05 PM. I thought it was an interesting time schedule. All things considered the service did not look a lot different from a Christian service. Another important thing I did was, I interviewed Preeti Thakur, a female in her late 20’s, who is a Hindu here in the United States. She went to college in the United States and is an engineer. She is married and has a small child. Her husband is also from India and their marriage was arranged by their parents, as is typical in India. I sent her the questions ahead of time and these are her original responses. I then visited with her by phone to clarify some things. (P. Thakur, interview, May 23, 2012) 1. What is it like for a child to grow up in your religion; in other words what are the first lessons that a child is taught about the religion? Is it different for boys and girls?

Being brought up...
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