ibnlive » India

Jun 18, 2007 at 06:14am IST

What makes Indians keep the faith

New Delhi: The common belief is: Indians used to be a religious people but religiosity is fast declining in modern times.

Religion is fading out in cities and among the educated. Women and elderly are the few groups who are still religious.

The fact is otherwise: Faith in religion, far from declining, is on the rise in the country as a whole, says a Hindustan Times-CNN-IBN State of the Nation Survey conducted by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

Every alternate respondent in this survey, 7670 to be precise, was asked a series of questions about their religious beliefs, attitudes and practices.

The findings are surprising: urban, educated Indians are more religious than their rural and illiterate counterparts.

Women are more religious, but metropolitan women are far more religious than rural women.

The youth is a little less enthusiastic about religion, but only a little.

Belief in religion is stronger among urban Indians than among rural Indians.

Adivasis are the least enthusiastic about religious practices among all other social groups.

If there is one group more religious than anyone else these are the upper caste Hindus who have been exposed to modern life more than others.

The survey found:

  • 93 per cent believe in God; education makes no difference to this.
  • 64 per cent visit a temple or mosque or gurudwara etc. regularly.
  • 53 per cent of the Indians offer prayer daily; the more educated pray more regularly.
  • 46 per cent, more villagers than believe in the existence of ghosts.
  • 24 per cent consult a palmist at least occasionally.
  • 68 per cent participate or get involved or take interest in religious functions of religions other than their own.

The rise of BJP has little to do with this belief in religion.

The survey found that the party has little more than average support among those who are very religious, but so does the Congress.

Reason behind faith

Sociologists say that stress and strain of modern, urban living pushes people to search for some anchors in their lives.

People cannot go back to the simple rural life but they can create a space within and recreate a community through religion.

This perhaps explains greater religiosity among those who live in big cities.

But the meaning of religion has changed in modern times and is more public and congregational.

This may explain the proliferation of Jalsa, Satsang and Ratjaga.

Market and the media play a greater role in defining religion. Religious programmes on TV are the latest vehicles for religious communication.

Religiosity has increased more in towns and cities

Categories

Increased %

Decreased %

Village
28
11
Small town
36
10
Big Cities
33
10
Rest mentioned no change

The more urban you are, the more you worship

Categories

Daily %

Never %

All
53
9
Villages
49
9
Small towns and cities
64
7
Big cities
74
8
The rest pray weekly or only on festivals

Among Hindus, Upper caste pray more regularly

Categories

Daily %

Never %

Hindu Upper caste
64
7
Hindu OBC
50
9
Hindu Dalits
42
13
Adivasi
44
14

Religion is now public
Participate in Katha/sermon
54
Visit Temples/Mosque etc
64
Visit Shrines/ Mazars etc.
45
Participate in Public Gatherings of religious nature
36
Figures reported here are for those who answered frequently and occasionally for all except participation in public gathering for which the answer reported is for those mentioned Yes.

Personal religion more important than organized religion
Social Categories
Observing Fast/Roza %
Went for pilgrimage in last one year %
Read religious books and magazines %
Members of any religious organization %
All
57
49
23
10
Hindus
56
49
20
9
Muslims
80
39
35
10
Sikh
27
73
27
12
Christians
49
40
44
22
Figures reported here are for those who answered frequently and occasionally for observing Roza and fast and for reading religious books daily and weekly. For questions on went for pilgrimage and membership of organization answer yes has been reported

Religion via TV
Social Categories
Yes %
All
12
Urban Men
20
Urban Women
23

Healthy participation in religious functions of other religions
Categories
Active Participant %
Involved %
Interested %
Indifferent %
All
17
31
21
31

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