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Title: What it means to be Hindu: Religous Identity in Late Adolescence
Authors: Krishnamoorthy, Sadhvi
Keywords: Centre for Human Ecology
Sujata Sriram
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: TISS
Abstract: The present study explored religious identity in Hindu adolescents in the age group of 18–21 years. The adolescents‘ beliefs about religion and god, meaning making of being Hindu, personal and social practices, and factors of influence in the environment were studied, along with the wider ramifications of being Hindu. A qualitative design was used , and in–depth interviews were conducted with 16 adolescents in New Delhi. Themes were culled from the data collected. Religion was seen as a system of beliefs, having a purpose and intricately related to the concept of god. Two kinds of god concepts were identified, at the personal and the community level. At the personal level, god was conceived as an abstraction, omnipresent, omnipotent and a transcendental being. At the community level was the popular depiction of god, recognized by the masses. Being Hindu was an ascribed identity, reinforced by the observances at the personal and community levels. Individual participation in practices related to personal volition, fear and superstition, and requests made by elders. There was a greater disengagement with practices at the community level. A gap between the beliefs and the practices was identified, giving rise to the distinction between ―cultural‖ Hindus and ―practicing‖ Hindus. The family played an important role in the acquisition and understanding of rel igious concepts; with mothers playing a dominant role in the religious socialization. The adolescent was an active ecipient of information involved in the process of meaning making. Religion was found to be associated with aspects such as lifestyle, food, clothing, sexuality, politics and the media; each of which came together to provide a complex and diverse meaning of religion.
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