Religion returns in Indian
census provide a wonderful kaleidoscope of the country s rich social
composition, as many religions have originated in the country and few religions
of foreign origin have also flourished here. India has the distinction of being
the land from where important religions namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and
Jainism have originated at the same time the country is home to several
indigenous faiths tribal religions which have survived the influence of major
religions for centuries and are holding the ground firmly Regional
con-existence of diverse religious groups in the country makes it really unique
and the epithet unity in diversity is brought out clearly in the Indian Census.
Ever since its inception, the
Census of India has been collecting and publishing information about the
religious affiliations as expressed by the people of India. In fact, population
census has the rate distinction of being the only instrument that collets the
information son this diverse and important characteristic of the Indian
TABLE 21: DISTRIBUTION OF POPULATION BY
|All religious communities
|Religion not stated
|Source : Religion, Census of
At the census 2001, out of
1028 million population, little over 827 million (80.5%) have returned
themselves as followers of Hindu religion, 138 million (13.4%) as Muslims or
the followers of Islam, 24 million (2.3%) as Christians, 19 million (1.9%) as
Sikh, 8 million (0.80%) as Buddhists and 4 million (0.4%) are Jain. In
addition, over 6 million have reported professing other religions and faiths
including tribal religions, different from six main religions.
Hinduism is professed by the
majority of population in India. The Hindus are most numerous in 27 states/Uts
except in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Nagaland,
Meghalaya, Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab.
The Muslims professing Islam
are in majority in Lakshadweep and Jammu & Kashmir. The percentage of
Muslims is sizeable in Assam (30.9%), West Bengal (25.2%), Kerala (24.7%),
Uttar Pradesh (18.5%) and Bihar (16.5%).
Christianity has emerged as
the major religion in three North-eastern states, namely, Nagaland, Mizoram,
and Meghalaya. Among other states/Uts, Manipur (34.0%), Goa (26.7%), Andaman
& Nicobar Islands (21.7%), Kerala (19.0%), and Arunachal Pradesh (18.7%)
have considerable percentage of Christian population to the total population of
Punjab is the stronghold of
Sikhism. The Sikh population of Punjab accounts for more than 75 % of the total
Sikh population in the country. Chandigarh (16.1%), Haryana (5.5%), Delhi
(4.0%), Uttaranchal (2.5%) and Jammu & Kashmir (2.0%) are other important
States/Uts having Sikh population. These six states/Uts together account for
nearly 90 percent Sikh population in the country.
The largest concentration of Buddhism is in
Maharashtra (58.3%), where (73.4%) of the total Buddhists in India reside.
Karnataka (3.9 lakh), Uttar Pradesh (3.0 lakh), west Bengal (2.4 lakh) and
Madhya Pradesh (2.0 lakh) are other states having large Buddhist population.
Sikkim (28.1%), Arunachal Pradesh (13.0%) and Mizoram (7.9 %) have emerged as
top three states in terms of having maximum percentage of Buddhist population.
Maharashtra, Rajsthan, Madhya Pradesh,
Gujrat, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi have reported major Jain population.
These states/Uts together account for nearly 90 percent of the total Jain
population in the country. The percentage of Jain population to the total
population is maximum in Maharastra (1.3%), Rajsthan (1.2%), Delhi (1.1%) and
Gujrat (1.0%). Elsewhere in the country their proportion in negligible.