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Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine, sacred things, faith, a supernatural being or supernatural beings or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life". Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.

There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religion groups, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or forms of folk religion. The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists, and agnostics. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs.

The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theology, comparative religion and social scientific studies. Theories of religion offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion, including the ontological foundations of religious being and belief.

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2 October 2019 –
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks out about China's religious freedom violations during a visit to the Vatican. (Catholic News Agency)

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Ayya Vaikundar, is termed as formless; and so a seat(asana) is placed in the worship centers as if Vaikundar is seated Omnipresent on it.
Ayya Vaikundar (Tamil: அய்யா வைகுண்டர்), according to Akilattirattu Ammanai, a scripture of the Ayyavazhi, was a Manu (father, sovereign) avatar (the incarnation of a deity) of Narayana. As per the Ayyavazhi mythology the body in which Ayya Vaikundar incarnated is that of Mudisoodum Perumal.

He is referred to as Sampooranathevan, a deva, in the religious book Akilam. However the exact date of birth of Mudisoodum Perumal was unknown. The Akilattirattu Ammanai mention that when the body of Mudisoodum Perumal is taken into the sea he was 24 years old. In that sense it was predicted as 1809 and in history there are different views about the year of birth. But some historians opinions it as 1810 while others follow the view of Akilam. Any way the exact day and month of birth was unknown. According to Akilam, the avatar of Vaikundar took place in Three phase. The first stage of Avatar was the born dead child (birth of the Body). Next, immediately the soul of Sampooranathevan was installed into the body , along with the Spirit of Narayana kept in Parvatha Ucchi Malai after the completion of the Krishna Avatar. This was the second stage of the Avatar. Then in the sea (during the 24th year in 1833), the soul of Sampooranathevan was granted moksha, unified to the Ultimate Soul. Now, the Spirit of Narayana along with the Ultimate Soul (Paramatma) incarnated in the body of a human being (Muthukutty). This is the third stage of Avatar and from then he was called Ayya Vaikundar.

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