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Background information
Every religion has its own way of counting years, linked to its individual history.
The Christian calendar has been adopted for everyday use throughout the world.
Spellings differ in translation. The letter "w" in Indian languages is usually
pronounced "v", eg Diwali sounds like Divali. Christians, Muslims and Jews all
have holy books they believe are God's or Allah's message. The books of the
other religions are instructions, stories and teachings but are not purported to be
sent directly from any god. The Sikh holy book is regarded as a living entity.
Christians believe that if they ask God for forgiveness for sins that they have
committed then after their death their souls will be saved and they will enter
heaven. Jesus Christ suffered for them so they will not be punished for their sins
if they repent. They believe in one god called God who exists in three forms: God
the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit. God's son is Jesus Christ. The
Holy Spirit is God's presence on Earth.
Hindus believe in one God but believe that different aspects of him are
represented by different gods. This can be confusing. Explain it to pupils by
asking them to think of a cartoon character that can change its appearance. It is
still the same person but has taken on the attributes of another. There is no
founder. There is no set doctrine or belief that all followers must accept. Hindus
are free to believe what they wish about such things as the afterlife and can
worship whom they want. Most important for them is how they conduct
themselves. However, most accept the Vedas: an ancient holy book and
collection of hymns. This lesson focuses on the Ramayana, a Hindu poem, as
pupils find the story of Rama and Sita enjoyable. Hindus worship in temples
called Mandirs.
Jews believe they are born into the religion so do not seek to convert. Their
religion in called Judaism. Judaism began with the Hebrews around 4,000 years
ago. It originated in the land of Canaan, now Israel. Jews do not eat certain
foods, such as pork and shellfish. The modern Jewish nation, Israel, was
founded in 1948. Jews worship in a synagogue.
Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gottama in India. He was a prince but felt
unchallenged by life. He left the palace to try to solve what was wrong in the
world and life. After many years of searching he eventually received
enlightenment on how to stop misery. He was the Buddha, meaning The
Enlightened One. Buddha is not seen as a god but honoured for being one to
point Buddhists in the right direction. They worship at home and in Viharas.
Sikhism is by far the most modern of the six great religions. It began in the
fifteenth century. Sikhs believe that Guru Nanak, their founder, appeared in ten
different forms, and had nine successors, to complete the setting up of Sikh
doctrine. There were no more living Gurus after the tenth but the Holy Book is
thought of as a living Guru. Sikhs believe that all men and women are equal and
that all religions should be respected. Living good, pure lives is more important
than taking part in rituals.
©learnthings Ltd 2005
Muslims believe their religion began with Adam. They believe in the prophets of
the Old Testament, including Jesus but they do not accept that he was the
saviour. The most important prophet was Muhammad. Their holy book is called
the Qur'an. Muslims do not believe that Muhammad should be drawn or
represented in any way. In a similar fashion, neither Christians nor Jews
represent God.
Present this sheet to pupils who require an extension activity. Ask them to write
in full sentences about each religion. Include any facts they already know as well.
©learnthings Ltd 2005