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SOTN: Urban Indians more religious


Sanjay Kumar,Yogendra Yadav,CNN-IBN
Jun 18, 2007 at 06:19am IST

New Delhi: Faith in religion is increasing in India and the educated, urban people are more religious than those living in villages, says a Hindustan Times-CNN-IBN State of the Nation Survey conducted by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

Four out of every ten Indians believe they are very religious, five think they are also religious but not to a great extent. Only one among ten Indians considers himself or herself to be non-religious.

The survey found that among people of various religious communities Hindus are the least religious and Sikhs are most religious. This is not surprising for minority communities tend to be more religious all over the world.

Indian prayer

It is also interesting to note that, people living in small towns and cities are much more religious compared to those living in villages. One would expect women to be more religious compared to men, but what might surprise is, the urban women are more religious compared to the rural women.

Among Indians, the level of religiosity has also gone up considerably during the last five years. While 30 percent said they had become more religious during last five years, only 5 percent mentioned in negative.

While this has increased among people from all religious communities, but much more among the Muslims, the Sikhs compared to the Hindus. Among Hindus, more among upper castes admitted becoming more religious compared to people from other castes.

Among Adivasis, only 19 percent admitted becoming more religious during last five years. It is important to note that this change has happened more in urban areas compared to the villages since more people in towns and cities admitted becoming more religious during last five years.

People believe being very religious precisely because their engagement with religious activities seems to have increased over the years. Majority among Indians pray every day, more among those living in cities and town compared to those living in villages. The engagement with offering prayer daily is seen more among the upper castes Hindus compared to other castes.

Education builds faith

People generally associate the act of engagement with religious activities with those who are low on level of educational attainment. But the survey’s findings indicate, higher the level of education, more is the frequency of offering prayer.

How religious are people
Very Religious (%)
Some what religious (%)
Not religious at all (%)
All
42
45
9
Hindus
38
47
9
Muslims
55
35
5
Sikhs
56
39
3
Christians
50
35
11
Rest: No Opinion

The level of people’s engagement with various public religious activities is also high. Majority participate in Katha, visit temple or mosque while only little less than that visit shrine and participate in public gathering of religious nature.

People's faith has increased in the last five years
Increased (%)
Decreased (%)
All
30
5
Hindus
27
11
Muslims
38
8
Sikhs
33
9
Christians
47
7
Question: Do you think you have become more religious than before, less religious or there has been no change in the last five years?
Rest mentioned no change

No wonder, such deep engagement with various religious activities have made all Indian, whether illiterate or educated, whether living in villages or cities equally theist.

Majority of Indians admitted observing fast, and only little less admitted going for pilgrimage during last one year. A sizeable number also read religious books and magazine quite regularly and nearly 10 percent also admitted being member of religious organisation.

Widespread acceptance of beliefs that challenge rationality
Categories Those who believe in
Ghost %
Sun sign %
Numerology %
Re birth %
Heaven and Hell %
All
46
50
42
44
57
Figures reported for those who believe in above

Defying rationality

Sizeable proportions of Indian also believe in things like ghosts, re-birth, and the concept of heaven and hell. People have faith in numerology and sun sign and nearly 24 percent consult palmist either frequently or occasionally. Considering the total population of India, in absolute numbers these would constitute large numbers of people.

Whatever one may take about religious difference among people of different religions living in this country, but the findings of the survey indicate, there are sizable numbers among Indian cutting across religion, who, participate in religious festivals of religion other then their own.

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Palmists are quite popular
Categories
Frequently %
Occasionally %
Rarely %
Never %
All
7
17
23
53
Question: How often do you consult palmist?

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