Hinduism has no one organisation with the ability to define belief and dictate practice. Widely respected spiritual leaders and Hindu templephilosophers have however developed despite the lack of formal structure.

Hindu life is structured so that people understand their personal and social roles, the four ASHRAMAS are seen as the ideal stages of life which a person should go through – it is not lived exactly as listed but they remain a powerful influence still today on a Hindu’s life – they are:

·         Brahmacharin – Student stage
·         Grihastha – Householder stage
·         Vanaprastha – Retiring / Retreating from society
·         Sannyasin – Holy man no ties with society

SAMSKARAS – The Hindu Rites of Passage
For Hindus they represent the important stages in a person’s development.

There are 16 samskaras and they are found in the law books of Manu (one of the Hindus sacred books). The 16 stages are:

1.      Conception of a child
2.      Special rituals performed during pregnancy
3.      Special rituals performed during pregnancy
4.      Birth ceremony
5.      Naming ceremony
6.      Child’s first outing at 4 months
7.      Child’s first solid food
8.      Child’s first haircut (1-3 years old)
9.      Child’s ear pierced
10.   Sacred thread ceremony
11.    Start of formal education
12.   Graduation from studies
13.   Marriage
14.   Retirement at around 60
15.   Withdrawing from worldly concerns at around
75 to become a Sanyasa – Holy man.
16.   Death rites