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Hinduism And Spirituality

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One of the oldest religions in the world is Hinduism. Hinduism a way of life that is based around love and respect for others. Hinduism in a complex religion; there are many variations on how to practice Hinduism. Some Hindu people are stricter and some are more relaxed (Bennet, 2010). Hinduism is practiced primarily in southern and south east Asia; such as India (Brisbane, 2011).

Family Patterns

Family is one of the most important things in Hindu lifestyle. It is not uncommon for there to be three or four generations living together. The children are expected to repay their parents by taking care of them in retirement. The elders in the family help guide the younger generations with their experiences. Men make most of the decisions for the family, but older women in the family have a strong pull in the decision making. Women in the family work together to do the cooking and the cleaning (The Heart of Hinduism, 2014).

Children show respect to their family members by never calling them by their names. Even the siblings do not call each other by their names. Hindu’s use terms such as Dada for paternal grandfather, Dadi for maternal grandfather, Pita for father, Mata for mother, Chacha for father’s brother, and Chachi for father’s brother’s wife. Each member has their own term (The Heart of Hinduism, 2014).

Nurses should not be surprised if the patient looks to their family to make their healthcare decisions. Also if a hospital stay is necessary family members might stay with them so arrangement will need to be made to accommodate (Brisbane, 2011).


Hindu communication is varied due to the fact there are this religion is so large and complex. Hindus speak the language where they are located. The native language is Sanskrit; it is still spoken in India. Most people that practice Hinduism use Sanskrit for prayer, chants, rituals and hyms (Bennett, 2010).

Namaskar is the action of placing your palms together in front of you and bowing your head. This is how Hindus greet each other. Nurses need to be aware that touching in public can be disrespectful. Men can shake other men’s hand, but women can never shake a man’s hand. If touching is necessary never use the left side. The left side is considered unclean. Hindus believe that the soul rests on the head, so nurses should ask permission before touching their heads (Bennett, 2010).

Most Hindus have as smile and openness about them. They will always tell you the truth unless the truth is hurtful. One way to tell something is wrong is they do not have a smile and their arms are crossed (Brisbane, 2011).

Time and Space

Hindus do not believe in touching in public; unless it is in crowded places where it is unavoidable. In casual conversation Hindus will stand three feet to three and half feet away from each other. Touching is left for family. Nurses need to be conscious of their space preference and ask before doing their examinations (Bennett, 2010).

Nutritional Patterns

Hindus have to make good decisions in all aspects of life due to karma and Dharma. This includes what they eat. They need to take into consideration how the animal was killed; any animal killed brutally or used in sacrifice are considere “un-pure” (Bennett, 2010). Due to this reason most Hindus are vegetarians. If they are not vegetarians they do not eat beef or pork because cows are sacred and pork is unclean (Brisbane, 2011).

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Many Hindus participate in fasting. There are many ways they fast. Some may fast on certain days of the week, for certain holidays, or for penance. Fasting is way for them to reconnect with God (Brisbane, 2011). Hindus also do not drink alcohol (Bennett, 2010).

It is common practice that Hindus do not pass their food with the left hand and they never pass to the left. If something is handed to them with the left, they will not take it. This is considered unclean. They will only eat with their right hand. They will always wash their hands before they eat because they do not want to be unclean Brisbane, 2011).

Health Beliefs and Practices

Hindus believe heavily on Karma, so they usually take their health care as karma. Nurses should not be surprised if they just accept difficult situations. Most Hindus believe in a holistic medical treatment called Ayurvedic. Hindus believe that Ayurveda maintains the balance between spiritual, psychological and biological elements in your body. To do this they use home remedies. One of the most common spiritual remedies they use is holy ash and worship (Brisbane, 2011).

If the need for western medicine arises, they need to know the origin of the medication. Did it come from animal; is there a synthetic alternative available? Nurses can offer Hindu patients the manufacture’s information so they can man an informed decision about the medication (Brisbane, 2011).

Hindus may wear tulsi beads around their neck. Nurses need to consult the family and patient be for removing the beads. If the beads need to be removed, they should be placed in the patients right hand and handed to them with the right hand (Brisbane, 2011).

Spiritual Practices

Hinduism is based on the concept to purity. Purity is kept by Dharma; “striving for righteousness and upholding moral laws,” (Bennett, 2010). They believe in karma and reincarnation. They way they conduct themselves determines how they will be reincarnated. Most of the traditions are taught through stories and scriptures.

Part of the purity process Hindus believe in is hygiene especially oral hygiene. Most Hindus brush their teeth right away after waking; before they do anything else. They also partake in prayer. They usually have prayer in the morning so will schedule appointment after prayer time (Brisbane, 2011).

Biological Variations

Hindus are primarily from India, so they have a medium brown color skin and tend to have black hair. Hindus may suffer from anemia due to the lack or iron from being vegetarian. Indians are at high risk for heart disease according to the (CDC, 2019).

Nursing Considerations

There are many things that nurses need to consider while caring for a Hindu patient, but the main thing is to discuss with their patient their point of view on their healthcare. Hindus prefer personal space of 3-3 ½ feet. During examinations always ask and explain before touching them and touching their heads. During stays in the hospital they may decline meals because of fasting rituals or prayer time. Nurses should try to avoid handing Hindus items with the left hand. They may also want to preform oral hygiene after being sedated. Nurses should always ask which home remedies they use to be able to verify no medication reactions will occur. These are just some of the things nurses need to be aware of while caring for a Hindu patient.


  1. Bennett, S. N., Guillen, S., Nelson, T., Olsen, S., Smart, C., & Waller, A. (2010). Transcultural Nursing: Chapter 17 Hindu Culture. Retrieved from
  2. Brisbane. (2011). Health Care Providers’ Handbook on Hindu Patiendts. [PDF file] Retrieved from
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Preavention. (July 11, 2019). Glogal Health India. Retrieved from
  4. The Heart Of Hinduism. (2014). Family Life. Retrieved from

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Hinduism And Spirituality. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from
“Hinduism And Spirituality.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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