Being one of the world’s oldest religions in existence, Hinduism ranks as the third largest religion, (Srinivasan, p. 66). Today, there are approximately seven hundred million individuals worldwide that practice Hinduism. While majority of them reside in India, (Wangu, p. 6), many can be found in the Trinidad, Guyana, and Africa.
Those that take interest in studying the religion must first realize that Hinduism is more than just a way of life, (Srinivasan, pg. 66). Hinduism holds together diversity and not only for its own spiritual tradition, but for the entire subcontinent of India, (Berry 3). When it comes to healthcare beliefs, Indians believe in many different things.
For instance, hospital food can be a problem if their religion does not allow them eat to eat certain things. Beef is forbidden in the Indian culture, as Pork is forbidden in the Muslim religion. For some Hindu the food prepared in the hospital may be forbidden because it may have been contaminated with other foods they do not believe in eating. Many bring food from home for that person. Also hospital food may be too bland for most Asian Indians.
The hospital gowns you are given when checked into the ER are also forbidden, because they have been worn before them. Even though they have been washed and sterilized. If a bladder catheterization has to be done it must be done by someone of the same sex as the patient. When admitted friends and family will want to stay with that person thru their stay. They feel that is a way of supporting them. Many feel that Western medicine tend to overmedicate.
Rituals performed and celebrated from the time of conception to the moment of death are called samskara, (Wangu, p. 111). Hindus practice “samskara” traditional rites of passage to mark the transitions a person makes as he/she gets older, (Srinivasan 67). These traditions are broken down into four major parts; prenatal, childhood, childhood, marriage, and death, (Wangu, p. 111). In regards to health care, these rituals that are conducted can conflict with the decisions of the health care professionals and the family’s beliefs.
They practice at home remedies and spiritual meditation. For example, before a women decides to conceive, preparation is preformed way before there is any news of a pregnancy, (Wangu, p. 111). This ensures that the safety and well-being of the mother and child. Hindus believe in massage, bathing and herbal remedies. Physicians are only sought when a serious illness is suspected. When it comes to pain control many believe in meditation rather than medication.
When it comes to medication many people do not take capsule type medicines as cows and pigs are a source of manufacture. Cows and pigs are very sacred in their religion. For home healthcare it is very important to remember that shoes are not to be worn inside their home, so it does not bring in dirt. Many hospitals have Hindu staff to assist in beliefs.
Also language translation. As you can see Hindus do believe in many different healthcare beliefs. Hospitals tend to be very understanding and have a lot of staff on hand to help in language barriers and understanding of beliefs. References: Srinivasan, Radhika. Cultures of the World – India. New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 1993. Wangu, Madhu Bazaz. Hinduism: World Religions. New York: Facts on File Incorporated, 1991.