Living Hinduism: the Short stories
Hinduism is one of the world’s major religions, and possibly the oldest organized religion. Its form and traditions have their roots in the Vedic religion of the Iron Age in India, the last phase of the Indus Valley tradition, approximately 1100 to 350 BCE. The first Hindu scriptures, Ramayana, were written by the poet/sage Valmiki around 500 BCE. In modern Hinduism, the stories told in the Ramayana have not only influenced life and culture, but they have been fused into the very fabric of a Hindu’s daily experience. Hinduism for its more than a billion devotees is a way of living — an intrinsic part of a followers’ life, permeating daily schedules from birth and childhood, through maturity, and onto old age.
Although Hinduism as it is practiced today is generally a patriarchal system, its ancient roots are matriarchal. Unlike most major religions, Hinduism has a multitude of masculine and feminine deities that are worshipped and receive equal veneration from its devotees. In the twentieth century, the nuclear family structure has become the fashion, influencing social mores and customs in traditional societies, and breaking down matriarchal communities and practices. However, in the Hindu tradition matriarchal principles and traditions still exist. They are evident in some of the most important rituals and ceremonies of the religion.
In this project, my goal is to illustrate three things. First, to show not only the exotic of the Hindu tradition, but more importantly the ordinary majority of Hindus and how its cosmology is intrinsic to their lives. Second, to show evidence of matriarchal principles and practices within Hinduism, and how male and female roles are articulated and respected. Finally, I want this project to bear witness to how these ancient rituals survive and thrive today, in spite of the encroaching shadow of modern, high-tech society.
The Stories —
• Swasthani Festival
• One Wedding & a Funeral
• Holy Shiva