||First, not all Indians worship
idols, especially Muslims and Christians. Further, Jews, Zoroastrians
and some Hindus shun idolatry.
The practice of worshipping idols began in India
after Buddha's death (till then only
fire and water were used in holy rituals), when the Buddhists
started worshipping the statues of Buddha. The Jains and Hindus followed suit as it was
much easier to relate to tangible divinity than the abstract
spirits. This inspired building of grand temples, and promoted
Hindu-Jain art and architecture to no avail.
Various reformers like Dayanand Saraswati have tried to
eliminate idol worshipping from Indian society, whereas many others
like Bal Gangadhar Tilak promoted it to preserve the distinct Indian culture.
The tradition of idol worship is deeply rooted in the Indian
society. The line between superstition and devotion fades rapidly in
India and it is noticed by cultural anthropologists that even those practicing
non-idol worshiping faiths in India engage in some form of idol
"Thou art everywhere, but I worship thee
Thou art without form, but I worship thee in these forms;
Thou needest no praise, yet I offer thee these prayers"
--From a Hindu Prayer