The stories behind.
What does religion mean to people nowadays? As outdated or odd believing in one or multiple gods seems to many of us – two-third of the world population is religious. Believing in someone or something can mainfest meaning and identity in each individuals life. While encountering with totally different and diverse forms of religious practice and worship, we still found there is common ground amongst all of them. May it be coming together as a family for festivities or just reflecting about the big questions of life.
Buddhism – Wheel of life
The wheel of life of the Buddhism stands for the cycle of the eternal life, which Buddha recognized shortly before his big enlightenment. The wheel of life consists of four smaller circles. The first circle symbolizes a cock, snake and pig who are representatives of greed, hatred and mental blindness. The second circle indicates the karmic rise and fall. The third circle visualizes the different fields of Buddhist forms of existence. These forms depend on somebodies Actions and behaviour within previous life. The fourth circle describes several different factors which influence people’s life.
Buddhism goes back to the teachings of the northern Indian son of a prince, Siddhartha Gautama, who is called Buddha, „The Enlightened One“, and worshipped as its founder and teacher. Buddhism came into being above all in dissociation from the traditional elements of Hinduism.
With his insight into the „Four Noble Truths“, Buddha recognized that the fate of all sentient beings is bound up with the „illness of suffering“, which can be healed only by the „Noble Eightfold Path.“ The Buddhist strives for the attainment of Nirvana as the ultimate aim salvation. This „extinguishing“ is regarded as the end of suffering from the cycle of existence.
In original Buddhism this path to salvation was to be followed by every human being individually. In contrast to this doctrine of the Hinayana, later in the doctrine of the Mahayana the idea involved that this path could be made easier by a commitment to „enlightened beings“ or Bodhisattvas.
Today roughly 400 million Buddhists live above all in East and South East Asia. In Germany live circa 250.000 Buddhists.
Christianity – Star over Bethlehem
The Star of Bethlehem of the Christianity is a symbol which is recent during Christmas time.
As religious history tells, this really bright star brought the three holy kings, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar from the East to the barn where Jesus Christ was born. Therefore people often decorate their homes with little stars during Christmas time.
Christianity is numerically the largest of the religious families and includes all people who regard the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as the central truth of redemption. Jesus is regarded as the son of God who through his death liberates mankind from sin and promises eternal life.
In the Christian view the Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost is to be understood as monotheism. Additionally the majority of Christian churches have „Sacraments“ as visible signs for the hidden presence of God. The central scripture of Christianity is the Bible as the combination of the Old and New Testament.
Circa two billion people today follow Christian teaching above all in Europe, North America, South America and Africa south of the Sahara. In Germany roughly sixty percent of citizens belong to a Christian church, usually either Roman Catholic or Protestant.
Hinduism – Diwali lamp
The Diwali oil lamp is part of the Hindu Diwali festival which is celebrated each autumn. People celebrate the victory of the good against the evil, the truth against lies, the light against darkness and the victory of the living against death. Moreover people remind the return of god Rama to the city of Ayodkya after a 14 year exile. Because it was dark when he entered the city, people lighted up oil lamps.
Hinduism is the collective term for different religious traditions on the Indian subcontinent. There is a wide spectrum of forms of worship: they can be addressed to a single divinity, divine couples or several divinities.
The earliest writings are the Vedas and the commentaries. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata, two of the most influential works of Indian culture, came into being much later. People are born as Hindus and the believer finds himself within a cycle of rebirths. The final aim of salvation is to escape from his cycle by means of right actions, insight or devotion.
The roughly 900 million followers of Hindu religious groupings form the third largest religion in the world. There is a concentration of its believers on the Indian subcontinent. In addition there are large communities above all in South Africa and Britain. There are circa 100.000 Hindus living in Germany.
Judaism – Hanukkia
The Hanukkia is a symbol of the jewish Hanukka. People remember the rededication of the Temple after the successful uprising of the Makkabees against the foreign domination of the Hellenists. The oil which was found was only sufficient for one day to light the Menora. Miraculously the fuel was enough for eight days. The candle in the middle of the Menora represents the ‚servant‘, which lights up all the other eight candles (one candle per day).
Judaism is the world’s oldest monotheistic religion existing today. Judaism’s history represents an exclusive alliance of God with his chosen people. The central part is the relationship between the God of creation and his creatures. This relationship is expressed in the 613 commandments of the Thora, the holy writing of the Jews.
Judaism is organized in communities, whereby teaching and pastoral tasks are frequently taken on by a rabbi. Judaism has no central authority and there is no binding definition of the content of the doctrine. Apart from a belief in God and his creation, the essential elements are the observance of the Torah, the expectation of a future Messiah, the resurrection of the dead and judgement for earthly deeds in the afterlife.
Islam – Hands in prayer
The so called Sugar celebration starts with the highlight of the whole festival which is the sighting of the new light which arises of the new moon. The most important religious duty is the festival prayer. This prayer is mainly held in a Friday-mosque or an open prayer place. Before praying people wash their whole bodies, speak a certain formula, put on their best clothes and women decorate their hands with Henna.
Islam is among the more recent developments in religious history. Nevertheless, its followers today represent the second largest religious family in the world. Monotheism with Allah as the only God is central to Islam. Although Islam recognizes in Abraham, Moses or Jesus the existence of other prophets, the series of revelations of God was completed with the prophet Mohammed, The central writing is the Koran with 114 Suras. There is no central doctrinal institution, communities are largely autonomous.
The duties of a Muslim comprise observance of the creed, the five daily prayers, alms, fasting and the pilgrimage to Mecca to the Kaaba, the central shrine. Muslims expect retribution for their earthly deeds on the Day of Judgement. Today 1.3 billion people are followers of Islam. Societies with a majority of Muslims are to be found above all in the Middle East, North Africa and Central and South East Asia. The number of Muslims living in Germany is estimated at roughly 3.5 million people.