Ethnicity Online

Cultural Awareness in Healthcare

Hindus: Issues For Hindu Healthcare Staff

terminations

Hindus must revere all life and follow a policy of non-harm (ahinsa) to living creatures. They may therefore object strongly to any involvement in the termination of pregnancies. Termination to save the life of the mother may be acceptable.

animal experimentation

A belief in the rebirth of the atman into a new flesh body so that it can continue its journey towards moksha is a central tenet of the Hindu faith. This includes periods of time that the atman may spend in an animal form; Hindus believe that all animals are the receptacles of souls and so they are highly revered. Many Hindus will therefore choose not to be involved in animal experimentation, whereas others may be more tolerant, seeing its value to human life. Individual medical students should be allowed to make their own choices.

animal products

Some Hindus are strict vegetarians and may prefer not to be involved in the administration of medication that is derived from animal products.

prayer

Hindus tend to pray three times a day and may request that they are allowed to do so while at work. In an ideal situation, a room for prayer and meditation should be made available. Individuals who make use of such facilities should be asked not to leave any of their religious items behind because staff of other religions may also use the room.

uniforms

Hindu men are unlikely to have any issues relating to uniform. Hindu women do not usually show their legs and are likely to object to wearing a dress or skirt that is not full length. Trousers may be an acceptable alternative.

Some items of jewellery that are typically worn by Hindus, for example a mangal sutra (marriage bangle), have special religious significance and staff may therefore not wish to remove them. Married Hindu women wear a red spot (bindi) on their forehead and may object to removing it.

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