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Q Why do Indians practice idolatry?
A 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 worship.

"Thou art everywhere, but I worship thee here;
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

 

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