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The Solidification of Tradition | Center for Global Islamic Studies

Oct 25, 2017
4:15 PM - 5:30 PM

Williams Hall - Herbert A. Roemmele Global Commons
31 Williams Drive
Bethlehem PA 18015

Jenny Chao interdisciplinary Programs Office

Center for Global Islamic Studies, The Solidification of Tradition: Hindu Identity Formations at a Goddess Shrine in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Jürgen Schaflechner, Heidelberg University, Germany.

The shrine of Hiṅglāj Devī is located in the desert of Balochistan, about 215 km west of the city of Karachi. Notwithstanding its ancient history, an annual festival (melā) at Hiṅglāj was only recently invented, in the mid-1980s. With the construction of a national highway that now-coincidentally-connects the former aloof desert shrine with an urban Pakistan, an increasingly confident Hindu community started to utilize this distant place as a main center for Hindu religious practices. The Hiṅglāj Śevā Manḍalī (HSM), the local temple organization, is partly responsible for these changes. Appealing to discourses of rationality and education, the HSM has successfully influenced perceptions of ideal “Hinduness” at the temple, and thus, significantly changed the image of the pilgrimage to and the events at the shrine. To approach these dynamics at Hiṅglāj, I suggest understanding them through the metaphor of “solidification.” Processes of solidification distinguish themselves through the persistent efforts to exclude certain religious tropes and ritual performances from gatherings at Hiṅglāj. This repeated exclusion performed mainly by the HSM has, over time, organized contingent events into a hegemonic narrative, widely seen as the “actual” core of the tradition today.

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