Christians and Indian Culture
We all come from rich cultural backgrounds full of unique traditions. For example, here in America children around the country wake up on Easter morning and celebrate in different ways. Some celebrate the cultural aspect of the holiday – collecting Easter eggs left the night before by the Easter Bunny, while others head out to church. Although Easter is a day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, it’s also a cultural tradition and celebration.
“Jesus didn’t come to erase our humanity, but to redeem it.”
Writer Jospeh D’Souza for Religion News said this to describe how Jesus calls us to Him regardless of our language, culture, or social background. Jesus’ commandment is to love Him above all else – with our whole heart.
The same is true for Christians in India. Christianity and Hinduism don’t exactly have much in common, and yet, Hinduism is more than a religion – it’s integrated deeply in the Indian culture and has been since the country’s origin. So, what does that mean for Indian Christians?
Well, countries around the world carry unique aspects throughout its culture that are often heavily rooted in a prominent religion of the area. For India, that’s Hinduism. From ways of greeting each other, what they wear, to how they eat, talk, and holidays they celebrate. These things are so deeply rooted in Indian culture, they go far beyond religious beliefs.
In fact, in 1995 the Supreme Court of India defined both “Hinduism” and “Hindutva” as not only religious descriptions but cultural terms as well.
Here are some examples of Indian Hindu culture that Christians still practice:
- The exceptional respect of elders and leaders.
- The importance of the traditional family.
- Not eating beef.
- Indian Christians are not excluded from the caste system (the social class practice based on the belief in reincarnation). In fact, when an Indian converts to Christianity they are socially viewed as a Dalit (or Untouchable).
- Brides wearing red for their wedding – as white is seen as the color of mourning.
An important part of understanding Christianity in India and around the world is understanding a countries unique cultural identity. Although often rooted in dominant religions of the area, many traditions transcend religious beliefs. This has rung true for more than 2,000 years and continues to present us with the challenge of acknowledging our culture, and the cultures around us while also following the King of Kings above all else.