India is a land of multiple religions. We find in our motherland followers of various faiths, particularly of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism, among others.
The share of Hindus in India’s population has shown the sharpest dip in a decade since Independence and has dropped below 80 per cent. According to figures of the religion census of 2011, Hindus comprised 79.80 per cent of the total population of 121.05 crore, compared with 80.45 per cent of the total population in 2001. Population of Christians and Sikhs have remained more or less stable at 2 per cent, while population of Muslims in India have risen by 80 basis points, again showing fastest population growth among religious groups. Census 2011 shows that the state that saw the maximum growth in Muslim population over the decade is Assam exacerbated by illegal Bangladeshi infiltration.
Then there are sects within each religion. Hinduism, for example, has many sects including Shaiva, Shakta and Vaishnava. Add to them the sects born of religious reform movements such as Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj and Ram Krishna Mission. More recently, some new cults have come up such as Radhaswami, Saibaba, etc. Similarly,
Islam is divided into Shia and Sunni; Sikhism into Namdhari and Nirankari; Jainism into Digambar and Shvetambar and Buddhism into Hinayan and Mahayan.
While Hindus and Muslims are found in almost all parts of India, the remaining minority religions have their pockets of concentration. Christians have their strongholds in the three southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and in the northeastern states like Nagaland and Meghalaya. Sikhs are concentrated largely in Punjab, Buddhists in Maharashtra and Jains are mainly spread over Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat, but also found in most urban centres throughout the country.