Religious tolerance in IndiaMon, 29th Mar '10, 7:25 am::

I came across this article about Hindu pilgrims celebrating a Muslim warrior in Kerela. The article talks about how Hindus visit various temples and also a specific mosque as part of the pilgrimage. Most people outside of India don't know how much Indians truly respect and accept the religions of others in day to day life. Despite the frequent news stories of religious-hate-fueled riots, most Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Jains all coexist very peacefully. It doesn't matter if you are a Sikh or not, you get used to saying "Sat Sri Akal" whenever you come across an elderly Sikh person. You say "Eid Mubarak" to Muslims on their holy days. You say "Merry Christmas" (not happy holidays) to a Christian and you learn to say "Jai Jinendra" to Jains.

It is understood that everyone has a religion and you are not only supposed to tolerate it but accept and respect it. Sayings like "Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai; Aapas mein hai bhai-bhai" (Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christians are brothers) are taught to children from early age. The truth is, teaching people to respect others' religions reinforces one's belief that their own religion has to be equally respected. On the other hand, atheists get no respect in India. "Nastik" meaning atheist is considered a dirty word. It is ok to be any religion, just not no religion.

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