Catherine Taich
Sex & Hinduism

Sex & Hinduism History
Hindu is the predominant and indigenous religion of South Asia where the majority of people practicing are in India. Hinduism does not approve of open sex or allow premarital sex for individuals practicing the religion. “Hinduism's moral traditions abot of the stages of life” (Prasad, 2007). These aspects of sex stem from the idealized visions of the Hindu gods because these gods demonstrate the perfect balance of relationship between the two sexes (Prasad, 2007). Separation of the male and female allows for harmony and purity before coming together in union. This has been practiced since early times and little change regarding the subject has occurred in society since then, even with the heavy influence of the Western world in today’s modern era. The origins of abstaining from sex before marriage in Hindu culture compliment themes of everyday life from ancient times. During these times, premarital sex was never an issue because young girls were married off by the time they hit puberty and sent to live with the elders of their husbands’ family. During this time, close attention was given to maintaining the young girls’ purity. At this point in history girls were not allowed access to education or permitted to go outside the home freely, which also contributed to the little concern for the topic (Jayaram, 2011). The idealsof premarital sex not being accepted in Hindu society and culture have roots from ancient times that are still present today.

Sex & Hinduism in Families
Early beliefs and viewpoints on sex have caused the topic of sex and Hinduism to be of great concern to modern day people who practice the religion. Because of the influence of Western culture and education, the idea of premarital sex has become taboo for many Indian families, whether in India or abroad. For many of these families, it is sacred to maintain the idea of no sex before marriage. For example, if anyone outside the family realm were to find out about such an action as sex before marriage, society would cause great misfortune for the family; thus, life would become very complex for all members.

“For most Hindus, there is a great awareness of and respect for human interdependence and interconnectedness, and if an individual’s actions weaken the community to which the person belongs, those actions weaken the person as well.” (Hodge, 2004)

As society disdains people who take part in premarital sex, a lack of communication within families about topics regarding sex and health also occur. Concern for sexual health is not viewed as important for young people because society assumes they are virgins (Jayaram, 2011).

Hinduism & HIV/AIDS
People in the Hindu faith infected with the HIV/AIDS virus often do not seek treatment due to religious barriers. “Duty towards family is another element that keeps patients coming for treatment” (Keller, 2011). Not seeking medical care is problematic because Hindu people assume that their significant other has never engaged in previous sexual experiences; therefore, there should be no trace of disease.

Sex & Hinduism at School
Schools in India do not condone the teachings of sex at school. Because of this, segregation between males and females in schools is very common in India to promote distance between the sexes before marriage (Jayaram, 2011). Males and females often attend separate
Illustrated book of Kama Sutra (Chaix, 2007)
schools in hope that they will not interact and form relationships with one another, not even friendships.

Sex & Hinduism and Dating
Dating in India is nearly unheard of because of the strict practice of no sex before marriage. People do not approve of males and females dating in this culture. Friendship and normal communication between the two sexes causes social taboos if crossed, which forces these two groups to live in two contrasting worlds and maintain a communication gap before marriage (Jayaram, 2011). The idea that two people must wait to have sex until marriage stems from the Hindu gods’ beliefs that pleasure will only be met with suffering, thus the soul will be awaken when these practices of celibacy have been met. The couple cannot participate in oral sex until marriage, once married they can take part in techniques of sexual satisfaction as described in Kama Sutra (Prasad, 2007).

Prostitution & Hinduism
Prostitution in India is an exception rather than a norm to premarital sex. This is because many families are forced to sell their daughters to brothels in order to lessen financial pressure. The girls that are sold into prostitution and nightclubs are mainly from poor families. This percentage is much smaller due of the overall shame of this practice. Another reason why girls enter this business is because of broken families where communication little to nonexistent between the parent and child (Jayaram, 2011).

Sex & Hinduism Women’s Roles
Indian women are placed in a certain role within the family that consists of maintaining purity and conveying the image of virtue to others. No matter if the woman is living in India or abroad, it is important to note that many of these women have their core values rooted into the same beliefs regarding sex and marriage.

“Through the beliefs of dharma and karma, both the psychological and physical afflictions of Indian women may be interpreted as shameful or ill omens for the whole family since a woman’s well being is seen as a reflection of family integrity. Subsequently, Indian women are significantly more vulnerable to shame, guilt, and stigma than men, while an Indian male’s affliction is perceived as a cause for sorrow rather than shame.” (Navsaria, 2007)

Second and third generation Indian women in countries outside of India show these values, even with the exposure of education and socialization among males in society. The origins of this are from the internalization of Hindu beliefs about family life and from the experiences of growing up in this environment. Indian women who practice Hinduism have an idealized vision of themselves that must be maintained in the most pristine of manners in order to be accepted by themselves and Hindu society.

Sex & Hinduism on Television
Television shows such as NBC’s “Outsourced” portray Hindu Indians with underlying messages of sexual commentary about female purity. The show links American audiences to the knowledge and significance of premarital sex not being accepted in Hindu society. This show in particular demonstrates the significance of female virtue through characters that talk openly about waiting to engage in the practice of sex until they find their husbands through a rigorous process of judging multiple aspects of the male’s life before choosing their mate.

Sex & Bollywood
Bollywood is the Hindu-based film industry in India headquartered in Mumbai and is also the largest film producer for the country. Because this industry is based on Hindu principles, there is no touching between males and females in the movies; therefore, there are no love scenes or kissing scenes, however modest kissing sometimes appears on rare occasion. The expression of dance and singing are used as the main communicative tool between sexes. However, it is recognized that “sex sells” in the media industry, which has also contributed to the topic of premarital sex being more taboo than it used to be. “If we can’t actually see the kissing and love-making that is hinted at, there is ample compensation in the shape of tight dresses, hot dancing, suggestive dialogue, etc.” (L'univers de Bollywood, 2007). Bollywood films demonstrate Hindu culture through a media perspective because the beliefs and ideals are strongly portrayed through character interactions.
Bollywood Film Star, Aishwarya Rai (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan News, 2007)


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