November 6th, 2012
05:21 AM ET
By Naomi Canton, for CNN
(CNN) - Diwali is one of the most important Hindu festivals in India - but the colorful customs and meanings associated with it can vary dramatically depending on whether you reside in the countryside or the city.
On the streets of densely populated conurbations like Mumbai, Diwali - popularly known as the Festival of Lights - is often a raucous affair, marked by a cacophony of firecrackers on the streets and a flourish of ceremonial gambling in the home. The wealthier urban dwellers splurge on gold, jewelry, clothes and expensive gifts such as electronics, which they buy for themselves and their loved ones.FULL STORY
October 15th, 2012
04:15 PM ET
(CNN)–For centuries, artisans have been crafting statues of Hindu deities on the banks of the Hooghly River in Kolkata, India.
Italian photographer Albertina d'Urso recently visited the historic Kumartuli district in the West Bengal capital.
"I think they enjoy their work because they know the idols they create will be enjoyed by others, but most of all because it is creative and handmade work," she said. "It would not be the same if it was a modern factory."
September 1st, 2012
11:08 AM ET
Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
When I went to Bali a few years ago, I didn’t go, like most tourists, for the beaches or, like Elizabeth Gilbert, for love. I went for the religion. I wanted to learn something about the unique brand of Hinduism practiced there.
Balinese Hinduism differs from Indian Hinduism in many ways. For example, in Balinese temples there are often no images of God. But for me the most arresting religious image I encountered was the empty chair.
June 20th, 2012
04:17 PM ET
Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
When I first started studying Asian religions in the United States in graduate school, I assumed that the story of Asian immigration was a story of the arrival and adaptation of Hinduism, Buddhism and other Asian religions.
And so it is. But the broader story is much more complicated and intriguing.
January 1st, 2012
03:00 PM ET
To ring in the New Year, CNN's Belief Blog asked experts in religion, faith leaders, and a secular humanist about how the forces of faith and faithlessness will shape the world in 2012.
Here's what they told us:
1. The Republican Party will tap Mitt Romney as its presidential nominee, and America will finally have its "Mormon moment." As evangelicals try to figure out whether they can support a president who practices Mormonism, the rest of us will try to figure out whether Mormonism is a cult, a form of Christianity, or something in between. Meanwhile, visitors to Marriott hotels will finally crack open some of those nightstand copies of The Book of Mormon.
2. Despite all of the lessons that could have been learned from Y2K and Harold Camping, people will still rally around the idea that apocalyptic events are on the calendar for 2012. Some will turn to the end-date of the 5125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar (closely associated with the Maya civilization) and a handful of folks believe cataclysmic events are awaiting on December 21, 2012. But the dates with will pass with little fanfare — except for those profiting from the sale of gold coins, generators, and dried food that you'd probably rather want to die than eat.
December 29th, 2011
11:05 AM ET
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – A Russian court has rejected a petition that sought to ban a Russian translation of the Bhagavad Gita, one of Hinduism's most important texts.
Hindus around the world expressed outrage after prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk said the scripture promoted extremism and social discord.
The billion-plus adherents of Hinduism consider the 700-verse Gita, written as a message from God taught by Lord Krishna, as sacred.
December 24th, 2011
10:00 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
"We live in a country with a majority of Christians, where Christmas is a major holiday... It's a reminder we do believe in Jesus. Jesus' position in Islam is one of the highest prophets in Islam," Magid said, adding that Muslims view Jesus as a prophet on par with Abraham, Moses, Noah and Mohammad.
Often when he says the name of Mohammad or Jesus in conversation, Magid adds the Islamic honorific "Peace be upon him" after his name.
"Jesus is a unifying figure, unifying Muslims and Christians," he said. The Quran, the Islamic scriptures, makes specific mention of Jesus and of his mother Mary. "It's very interesting that there are many places where the prophet (Mohammad) is quoting Jesus."
Christmas has a way of bleeding into other faiths in America. The Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger in Bethlehem 2000 some odd years ago is ubiquitous across the country, even if the American tradition has leaned away from the sacred and toward the secular.
December 22nd, 2011
11:09 PM ET
By Moni Basu
(CNN) - India approved quotas for minority groups Thursday in a move that was widely seen as the ruling party's attempt to woo Muslim voters in a key state.
The federal cabinet set aside a 4.5% minority quota in jobs and education within an existing 27 percent quota for what are known as Other Backward Classes, traditionally the lowest rungs of the Hindu caste system otherwise known as Dalits.
The Indian constitution prohibits privileges based on religion but Thursday's decision would allow economically and socially disadvantaged minorities - Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Zoroastrians - to be included in affirmative action programs.FULL STORY
December 20th, 2011
11:53 PM ET
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - For Hindus it's the Song of God, but prosecutors in the Russian city of Tomsk want the Bhagavad Gita banned, calling it an extremist book that sows social discord.
A court was supposed to have rendered a decision Monday on the proposed ban, but adjourned until December 28 to hear more academic opinion on the matter.
Hindus around the world have expressed outrage at the treatment of one of the most important texts of Hinduism. The 700-verse scripture, written as a message from God taught by Lord Krishna, is a part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
August 30th, 2011
04:23 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi and Chris Lawrence, CNN
Fort Jackson, South Carolina (CNN) – The summer sun beats down on camouflaged Kevlar helmets. Weighed down by heavy body armor, men and women of the cloth are crawling through sand, under barbed wire and learning how to run with soldiers.
Explosions in woods simulate the battlefield as an instructor barks commands.
"You are not following simple instructions! Cover me while I move! Got you covered! Let's go!"
This is the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where the Army trains clergy of all faiths how to survive in combat.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.