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The caste system:

An essay on this topic has been relocated to another essay.

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Hindu sects and denominations:

About 80% of Hindus are Vaishnavites, who worship Lord Vishnu. Others follow various reform movements or neo-Hindu sects.

Various sects of Hinduism have evolved into separate religious movements, including Hare Krishna, Sikhism and Theosophy. Transcendental Meditation was derived from a Hindu technique of meditation. The New Age movement has borrowed many of its concepts from Hinduism.

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What does the mark on the forehead mean?

The colored dot is variously referred to as a "tilaka," "bottu," "bindiya," "kumkum," or "bindi." It is a sign of piety, and a reveals to other people that the wearer is a Hindu. It symbolizes the third eye -- the one focused inwards toward God. Both men and women wear it, although the practice among men is gradually going out of style. In the past, many unmarried women wore black marks, whereas many married women wore red. But in recent times, women often wear dots that match the color of their saris. 4

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Hindu symbol:

Hindu AUM symbol

The Hindu symbol "Om" (or "Aum") contains the sounds a-u-m, In Sanskrit. The letters "A" and "U" together form the sound "O." The three letters represent:

  • the three parts of the universe: earth, atmosphere and heavens,

  • the three main Hindu deities: Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, and

  • The three Vedic scriptures: Rg, Yajur, and Sama.

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Hindu sites on the Internet:

Web sites with lists of links to Hinduism:

bulletThe Yahoo search engine lists over 200 Hinduism sites. See: has a collection of articles on Hinduism at:

Web sites devoted to Hindu information, festivals, fasts, temples, rituals, tours, etc:

bullet Ved Sutra has Hindu information "... from Ganesh to Sai Baba, from Krishna to Ram. VedSutra contains information about Hinduism, Hindu Gods and Hindu Mythology. See: is a travel agency in India that supplies customized vacation packages, hotel bookings, airline tickets, railway tickets and car rentals. See: They have an information section on Hindu temples in India at:

bulletThe Char Dham Tours describe a pilgrimage to holy sites in India. See:

bulletDiwali fesival contains "Information on festival celebrations for diwali, bhai duj, dhan teras, govardhan puja, lakshmi puja, kali pooja. Also find pooja process, gift traditions, importance, calendar, rangoli patterns, divali cards and divali recipes." See:

bulletDurga Puja is a website maintained by the Society for Confluence of Festivals in India. They have a site devoted to the Durga Puja celebration, dedicated to the Goddess Durga, the Mother of the Universe. See:

bullet123 Greetings provides many free online greeting cards that you can send to friends and loved ones at Diwali. See:

bullet Kashi Miksha Inc. provides service toHindus living around the world by performing last rituals at holy Ganges on behalf of the deceased's family member. See:

bulletHoli-Cards facilitates sending free online greeting cards for Holi (a.k.a. Vasant Mahotsava and Kama Mahotsava). This is Hinduism's spring festival, celebrated on the day after the first full moon in March. See:

bullet features Hindu festivals and attractions in Penang Malaysia an area that is "situated between the Malaysia peninsula and the Island of Sumatra." See:

Web sites that discuss Hinduism:

bulletThere is a Hindu E-mail digest at:

bulletFaith Library has a series of essays in their "Rites and Rituals" section on many religions, including Hinduism. See:

bulletHindu Paintings has an amazing and beautiful website, with many articles describing symbolism in Hindu art. See:

bulletHinduism Today is a "Monthly Magazine Affirming Sanatana Dharma and Recording the Modern History of a Billion-Strong Global Religion in Renaissance." See: 

bulletThe Hindu Universe has a great deal of information available on Hindu scriptures, news groups, WWW sites, festivals, customs, anti-defamation work, etc. See:

bullet Khatu Shyam ji is the name of Lord Krishna's present time Incarnation. He is worshiped all over india as well as in the rest of the world. He is believed to fulfill all wishes of his devotees. See:

bulletTwo Newsgroups devoted to Hinduism are:

bulletalt.hindu, and

bulletsoc.religion.hindu at:

bullet Pathways to Metaphysics contains many Hindu-related essays. See: has descriptions and translations of Hindu sacred texts. See:

bulletA website devoted to Shaivam -- the branch of Hinduism that worships Lord Shiva -- is at:

bulletThe Vivekananda Centre London is a non-commercial Hindu educational organization which follows the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. See:

bulletWisdom of Vedas has sections dealing with current issues, beliefs, ancient temples, religious literature, etc. See:

bulletThe World Vaisnava Association's home page is at:

bulletThe World Wide Center for Self-Realization has a website with many essays on spirituality, Hinduism, the Bhagvad Gita, Jainism, Yoga, the Upanishads, meditation, etc. See:

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "The Caste system," at: 
  2. "India's social customs and systems: The caste system," at:
  3. " 'Untouchables' on Verge of Turning to Christ," Religion Today summaries for 2001-OCT-5.
  4. "Dot your eye,", at:

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