Monday, March 28, 2011

Religion and Culture - The Difference?

I know there's a difference. However, I don't think it's easy to see that difference in a lot of cases.

In terms of Hinduism, the word Hindu was never applied by themselves to themselves to denote a religion. The people of India were ... the people. The term "Hindu" came about because of a mispronunciation.

In other words, the people of India never saw it as practising a religion. It was them doing what they'd always done and would always do. It was their culture.

For me, not participating in any religious ceremonies, this is very hard. There is no differentiation between what is religious and what is just how things are done, thus I really can't relate to the Indian culture.

The idea of a separation of these terms comes across to me as a very western ideal.

So what happens when schools must be sensitive to a community's culture but the culture is indistinguishable from a religion? Rituals such as saying grace before a meal or prayers before going to sleep and/or upon waking up?

I said in an earlier post that this is a bit of a loophole for religion getting into schools. But then, it's not religion. It's culture.

I know it's very easy to sit back and say "but it's definitely religious". But then, if it's what they've always done and what they'll always do (and would probably do it even if they lost faith), then it's culture.

Within schools there is a proviso. The community ultimately dictates what is appropriate here. So if a complaint is made, the community must be consulted.

Let the heated debate begin...

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