What do saris have to do with Hinduism?

Religion or Culture?

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Religion and culture influence each other so much, that people often don’t think of them as being separate. But they are.

Christians and Muslims are both faiths that cover large and diverse geographic areas. And in many places they dress, eat and even observe holidays differently than their co-religionists in other regions.

Religions are generally based on scriptures or religious teachings. They define our relationships with whatever God or divine presence we believe in and the rituals we engage in around that relationship. Many religions have also codified laws or practice traditions that dictate our behavior in many other areas, such as our relationships with other people, how we treat animals, what we eat, and how we dress.

Culture is often influenced by religion, but it is a set of attitudes and practices that also reflect historical and geographical influences.

So, although many Hindus may wear saris, it is an Indian cultural expression, not a religious ritual. Since the Quran says nothing about whether or not women may drive, countries that forbid it are expressing their cultural identity.

Conversely, when Jews eat charoses on Passover to remind them of the mortar used by Jewish slaves to build the pyramids, it is a religious expression. But the mix of apples, nuts, wine and cinnamon eaten by Jews in some areas and the mixture of dates, nuts and dried apricots that is eaten in other areas, is an example of the influence of culture, of regional cuisines, on a religious ritual.

On Religious Diversity Journeys, our students get to learn about different faith traditions and enjoy some wonderful cultural foods, dances, languages, and other activities. This is a very important part of understanding our neighbors, and can be a lot of fun!