Tag Archives: India

Two new articles on Sufism in Sindh and India

Claveyrolas, M. et Delage, R., eds (2016) Territoires du religieux dans les mondes indiens. Parcourir, mettre en scène, franchir. Editions de l’EHESS (coll. Purusartha 34), Paris, 339 p.

In this book dealing with religions and its territories in South Asia and beyond, two articles (French language) focus on Sindh and Sindhis. The first one is about Sufism in Sehwan Sharif (by Rémy Delage) and the second  one about Sindhi Hindus settled in India (by Michel Boivin): Continue reading Two new articles on Sufism in Sindh and India

Book: Historical Dictionary of the Sufi Culture of Sindh in Pakistan and India by Michel Boivin

Michel Boivin, Historical Dictionary of the Sufi Culture of Sindh in Pakistan and India, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Michel Boivin is currently Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for South Asian Studies, CNRS-EHESS, in Paris.

“This book tackles the issue of delimiting Sufism: where does it start and where does it end? Speaking about Sufism does not typically account for its wide range of influence on societies and cultures. Thus this Dictionary aims to highlight the extent of Sufism’s reach, specifically in the context of Sindh. Various forms and Continue reading Book: Historical Dictionary of the Sufi Culture of Sindh in Pakistan and India by Michel Boivin

Learning Sindhi language in India

Learning Sindhi

Sindhi is a language spoken as a mother tongue by 23.4 million people in Pakistan, where it is the official language of the province of Sindh, and 2.8 million people in India, where it enjoys official status since its inclusion in 1967 in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. Sindhi’s official recognition has given the language institutional support: the Sindhi Adabi Board and the Institute of Sindhology in Pakistan and the Sahitya Akademi in India which promote the publication of literature and research in Sindhi. Continue reading Learning Sindhi language in India

Tribute to Dr Charu Gidwani (1970-2013)

Dr Charu Gidwani was born on 21 August 1970 in Pune, Maharashtra (India). She was the daughter of the renowned scholar Dr Parso Gidwani (1932-2004) and of Pushpa Khubchandani. Parso was born in Dadu, Sindh, nowadays in Pakistan and Pushpa was born in Karachi. In 1947 both their families migrated to India, leaving their ancestral Sindh. Dr Parso Gidwani finally established in Pune where he taught Sindhi linguistics and literature at the Deccan College. Born after an elder brother named Rohitesh, young Charu grew up in the academic environment of the Deccan College in Pune. Continue reading Tribute to Dr Charu Gidwani (1970-2013)

Workshop: Discussing recent work on Islam in South Asia

The research team “History and Sufism in the Indus Valley“, coordinated by Michel Boivin at the Center for South Asian Studies (CEIAS) in Paris, organizes a workshop to discuss on recent publications focusing on Islam in India and Pakistan. It will be held at the CEIAS on 24 January 2013 between 9 am and 1 .30 pm. For more information about this event, you can contact Delphine Ortis. Continue reading Workshop: Discussing recent work on Islam in South Asia

Book: Women Mystics and Sufi Shrines in India

Kelly Pemberton, Women Mystics and Sufi Shrines in India, Columbia, University of South Carolina Press, 2010.

Pemberton’s book draws on a number of issues like the gender issue and also subaltern studies since she locates women as a subaltern group. She seeks to understand how it is possible for them to “develop a sovereign consciousness that both imbibes and rejects elements of a dominant framework of reference”. In other words, her book questions “how women are able to exercise authority in the shrine setting despite a lack of official sanction for that authority” (p. xvii). It thus implies a different approach from that of Shemeem Abbas which focussed on “female voice” in Sufi Rituals (2002, Austin, University of Texas Press). Pemberton is able to highlight the agency permitting women to become pirs. It is interesting to see how gender studies devoted to South Asia Sufism are developing. The next step would be to devote a study to a shrine where a Sufi woman is buried, and thus venerated.

Michel Boivin

Fellowships: Popular Images and Media in Muslim Religious Spheres

Short-term Fellowships of

“The Cluster of Excellence – Asia and Europe in a Global Context”,

Transcultural Image Database Project “Satellite of Networks”

The Circulation of Popular Images and Media in Muslim Religious Spheres

 

“In the summer of 2010, Tasveerghar invited proposals for short term fellowships from scholars, researchers and practitioners of popular arts and culture for multi-disciplinary and multi-media projects of research and documentation on the topic of popular visual cultures and practices in and around Muslim shrines and public spaces, with an emphasis on the transcultural flows as emerging in the globalised contemporary popular arts and media.

Muslim public spheres in India/South Asia exhibit a wide array of image practices such as calendar and poster art, devotional framed pictures, portrait photography with artificial backdrops, illustrated covers of religious chapbooks and magazines, besides innovative wall murals and printed notices, all of them incorporating popular icons of Mecca, Medina, local Sufi shrines, saints, Shia symbols, and Arabic calligraphy. Besides these, one also finds religious narratives in popular recorded media such as audiocassettes, video CDs/DVDs, and now the cell-phone software. Much of this popular visuality and ephemera circulate around institutions such as Sufi shrines or mosques in south Asia, although these may not be limited to only one shrine area or a city. One may also find inter regional connections between shrines of different towns and villages through the passage of these media to wider areas.

Although much of these mass duplicated images and media may have their origins in the traditional religious performative practices of the pre-modern era, the impact of new technology and media, especially derived from outside their local spaces, has altered the way religious devotion is practiced today. One could highlight this with an example about the mobility and transformation of Muslim shrines, saint portraits and relics through images and media on the Indian subcontinent (although by no means do we wish to limit the regional focus to India but explore transnational and transcultural flows!). Usually a Sufi shrine holds the original grave or relic of a specific saint that cannot be replicated anywhere else (unlike a Hindu deity whose idol or replica shrine can be recreated in other locations too). Thus the visit to a particular Sufi shrine has its unique value for a pilgrim for its originality. But the mass duplicated images of the same can easily be made and have been in circulation for a long time, making a shrine or relic mobile beyond its original location. There are evidences of hand drawn illustrations of Sufi shrines and saint portraits being made available before the onset of print in India. The printing industry, especially of colour posters and other types of images made the mass produced images of Sufi shrines even more accessible and popular. The photography has added newer dimension to this visual culture where an odd photo of a saint is used again and again to make drawings and even idols, such as in the case Sai Baba of Shirdi.

Through this multi-disciplinary project we wish to go a few steps further from the nexus of photography, painting, and printed posters, to study the newer practices of the use of “original” images for the creation of new mediated material such as collage posters, videos, animation and even Internet-based presentations that seek newer generation of devotees and their popular piety. A typical example of this would be the production of popular devotional videos about Sufi shrines that are basically music videos with a performer/Qawwal singing a new song seeking the saint’s blessing, dramatically videographed in a studio or staged settings, interspersed with the vérité shots of the actual shrine – the two of which can sometimes be very different in style and quality. There can be several such examples from the contemporary popular culture of Muslims in India. Thus, we invite you to be a part of a larger project by contributing with your specific research about a shrine, institution or public space that is witnessing the production of popular images and media and getting altered through transcultural impact.”

More infos here: http://www.tasveerghar.net

PhD thesis: A Hindu Cult in South India and its Diaspora

Pierre-Yves Trouillet, A Social and Cultural Geography of Tamil Hinduism. The Cult of Murugan in South India and in the Diaspora, PhD thesis in Geography, University of Bordeaux III, 13 December 2010.

“Murugan is one of the gods of the Hindu pantheon, whose religious figure has been present in the South of India for at least two thousand years. Its worship is strongly associated with the cultural identity of Tamil Nadu (the « Tamil country » in the South of India), the cardinal points of which are marked by the presence of its six largest pilgrimage centres. This symbolic and geographic interaction between the temples of Murugan, the territory and the religious circulations dates back at least to the Middle Ages. It is to be found today at the local level too, either of a village or an urban area; it is to be found at the international scale of the diaspora as well, which is reinventing the geography of worship by giving it a transnational configuration. For all cases under study, the survey shows that in relation to the other gods of the Hindu pantheon, the definition of this Hindu deity has endowed it with particular symbolic characteristics, which trigger and direct human actions that are printed in the geographic space, such as the construction of temples or the devotional pilgrimages towards its sacred places. Thus the situation of its temple on the hill that overlooks the Mailam village (Tamil Nadu) depends as much on Murugan’s thousand-year-old association with peaks as on its position in relation to the places of worship of other deities. This happens to be the case in a local geography where deities, social groups and the relating spaces are both classified and classifying. In Mauritius, the famous processions for Murugan and the over representation of its temples suggest a context of assertion of the Tamil community against the Hindu majority originating from the North. It also confirms the degree of significance of the places and circulations associated to this worship, to the point of producing territorial acts.”

Keywords: India, Tamil Nadu, Mauritius, Hinduism, temple, place, circulation, territory, scale, pantheon, caste, ethnicity, diaspora, Murugan