Hinduism is a religion, or a way of life, found most notably in India and Nepal. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma, scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder. This Hindu synthesis started to develop between 500 BCE and 300 CE following the Vedic period, although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is linked by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, cosmology, shared textual resources, and pilgrimage to sacred sites. Hindu texts are classified into Shruti and Smriti and these texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, Vedic yajna, Yoga, agamic rituals, and temple building, among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas and Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include the four Puruṣārthas, the proper goals or aims of human life, namely Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, karma, samsara, and the various Yogas. Hindu practices include such as puja and recitations, meditation, family-oriented rites of passage, annual festivals. Some Hindus leave their world and material possessions, then engage in lifelong Sannyasa to achieve Moksha. Hinduism prescribes the eternal duties, such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings, patience, forbearance, self-restraint, Hinduism is the worlds third largest religion, with over one billion followers or 15% of the global population, known as Hindus. The majority of Hindus reside in India, Nepal, Mauritius, the Caribbean, the word Hindu is derived from the Indo-Aryan/Sanskrit word Sindhu, the Indo-Aryan name for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. The term Hindu in these ancient records is a geographical term, the Arabic term al-Hind referred to the people who live across the River Indus. This Arabic term was taken from the pre-Islamic Persian term Hindū. By the 13th century, Hindustan emerged as an alternative name of India. It was only towards the end of the 18th century that European merchants and colonists began to refer to the followers of Indian religions collectively as Hindus. The term Hinduism, then spelled Hindooism, was introduced into the English language in the 18th-century to denote the religious, philosophical, because of the wide range of traditions and ideas covered by the term Hinduism, arriving at a comprehensive definition is difficult. The religion defies our desire to define and categorize it, Hinduism has been variously defined as a religion, a religious tradition, a set of religious beliefs, and a way of life. From a Western lexical standpoint, Hinduism like other faiths is appropriately referred to as a religion, in India the term dharma is preferred, which is broader than the western term religion. Hindu traditionalists prefer to call it Sanatana Dharma, the study of India and its cultures and religions, and the definition of Hinduism, has been shaped by the interests of colonialism and by Western notions of religion. Since the 1990s, those influences and its outcomes have been the topic of debate among scholars of Hinduism, Hinduism as it is commonly known can be subdivided into a number of major currents
A Ganesha-centric Panchayatana ("five deities", from the Smarta tradition): Ganesha (centre) with Shiva (top left), Devi (top right), Vishnu (bottom left) and Surya (bottom right). All these deities also have separate sects dedicated to them.
The festival of lights, Diwali, is celebrated by Hindus all over the world.