Hinduism has its origins in the Aryan tribes of central India about 3,500 years ago. Hindus believe in the life cycle of death and rebirth, where the ultimate aim is to be released from this cycle. With good karma -good actions during your life - you can progress to ever rising levels of reincarnation. Buddhism later adopted this concept as one of its key principles.
There are three main practices: worship (puja), cremation of the dead and the caste system. The four principle castes include the Brahmin or priest caste; the Kshatriya (Chhetri in Nepali) or warrior caste; the Vaisyas or farmers and tradesmen; and the Sudras or menial work and craftsmen. These castes are further sub-divided. At the bottom are the ‘untouchables’ who perform the most menial jobs.
There are thousands of Hindu gods, which can be seen as pictorial representations of the many aspects of the divine. The one omnipresent god has three representations: Shiva (destroyer and reproducer), Vishnu (preserver) and Brahma (creator). Most temples are dedicated to one of these gods or one of the many lesser gods or goddesses like Indra (war, storms, rain), Suriya (sun), Chandra (moon), Agni (fire), Ganesh (prosperity, wisdom), Hanuman (trusty), Machhendranath (rain, protector of the Kathmandu Valley), Tara, Saraswati (learning).