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→
Raheja, Natasha, Digital Diaspora: Online Articulations of Sindhi Hindu Identity, M.A. Thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 2010. Supervisor: Madhavi Mallapragada.
“This project is located at the intersections of diasporic cultures, new media spaces, and identity building. My thesis is concerned, in particular, with the digital mobilization of and negotiation between Sindhi regionalism, Hindu nationalism, and Indian secular nationalism. In an attempt to problematize Sindhi Hindu diasporic identity formation, I have turned to websites that seek to engage as well as represent the Sindhi Hindu diaspora. I argue that the study of Sindhi Hindu identity production and cultural representation in these new media spaces can enhance our understanding of the larger ideological discourses that inform reconfigurations and imaginings of “community” and the “homeland.” Highlighting the heterogeneity of cyber-imaginations of Sindhi Hindu identity both across and within these sites, I hope to point to the ways in which the formation of a collective diasporic identity is in constant flux and negotiation as well as hesitant to be fixed within binary taxonomies.”
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
Daniela Berti & Gilles Tarabout (dir.), 2009, Territory, Soil and Society in South Asia, New Delhi, Manohar, 379 p.
A pluridisciplinary team of researchers has raised the question of territory in this book, which is the revised and English version of a previous publication in Italian. Beginning with the study of territorial representations in the Vedic texts to end up with a contribution about the mobilization of territorial categories by the Hindu nationalists during political processions, the authors have also taken into account in their theoretical framework the territory as a divine or spiritual jurisdiction, that is to say, a territory where the power and authority of various social groups exert on. Given the few studies on the notion of territory as both a cognitive category and a category of analysis of social change, it is certain that this book will not go unnoticed in the landscape of publications on Indian society.
Uderolâl, also known as Jhulelal, is God to some Sindhi-Hindu believers. Legend has it that Uderolâl was born as saviour of the people of Thatta in Sindh. The people here felt helpless when faced with the atrocities of the Muslim ruler Mirkshah who forced them to follow Islam. They offered prayers at the banks of river Sindhu (Indus). Uderolâl was an answer to their prayers. For the Sindhi-Hindus in India, He has become an important mark of identity; especially because they were forced to leave Sindh due to the Partition of India. Sindh is now in Pakistan. Jhulelal offers a distinct mark of identity to the community in India.
The panjrâs of Jhulelal are prayers sung to the glory of Jhulelal. It is the panjrâs that add to the liveliness of the bairanas, a festive occasion to offer prayers and thanksgiving to Jhulelal. The crowd gathered for the occasion, colourfully dressed, sing loudly the panjrâs to the beat of musical instruments. Of these the dhol, a kind of drum, is the most important. Another important instrument is the earthen pot, which is turned upside down and tapped rhythmically. Devotees accompany the music with their claps. As the force of the music and singing catches on devotees also start dancing.
About the translator
Charu P. Gidwani holds a PhD from Pune University, May 2004, Depiction of Childhood in the Works of Rabindranath Tagore. She is the daughter of a Sindhi linguist and lexicographer, Dr Parso J. Gidwani. She has inherited her love for Sindh and Sindhi from him. She teaches English Literature at RKT College, affiliated to the Mumbai University.
1. O my Jhulelal Sain
Mounted on a blue* horse, my Lal Sain Riding a pallo* fish, my Lal Sain Makes every Sindhi prosper, my Lal Sain Makes us carry offerings* every year, my Lal Sain Makes us keep bairanas*, fulfils all our wishes, my Lal Sain He is the true glory of Sindhunagar*, my Lal Sain Ferries* everyone across, my Lal Sain Fulfils hopes of devotees, my Lal Sain At your feet, all bow their heads, My Lal Sain, O my Lal Sain
Source: Anonymous panjra, Jhulelal Ji Mahima, second edition, April 2008, edited by Kavi Bharat (Bhagat) Bhatya, p. 14.
blue: blue colour is the colour of gods, it represents divinity in the Hindu religion.
pallo: a kind of a fish that belongs to the clupa ilisha genre. Legend has it that Jhulelal, referred here as ‘Lal Sain’, had this fish for his vehicle. A special feature of this fish is that it swims against the current.
offerings: offerings to Jhulelal are made in pots, these are then immersed in a river or flowing water, after the bairana is over.
bairana: it is an occasion to worship, offer prays, offer thanks to Jhulelal. One of the most important times of bairana is conducted is on Cheti Chand, the time, in March, marking the birth of Jhulelal. This is also the Sindhi New Year.
Sindhunagar: This is the proposed name for Ulhasnagar, a place of British horse-stables converted to a camp for Sindhi refugees. Literally, ‘Sindhunagar’ means ‘settlement of Sindhis’.
ferries everyone across: in Hinduism very often life is compared to an ocean. Faith in God, and God alone, can carry a human being safely across this ocean of life. To put it simply, faith in God makes life smooth.
2. O Lal keep my honour safe Jhulelan
This anonymous panjrâ is a favourite of Sufi singers in and around Sindh. Famous Sufi singers in Sindh, Punjab and even Bangladesh have sung it.
Lal keep my honour safe* Jhulelalan*, O thou of Sindhdi*, of Sewan*, of Sakhar*, Hail Mast Qalandar*, we’ve Dulhe* in our hearts Four lamps always burn at your shrine, The fifth one I have come to light O Jhulelalan, O thou of Sindhdi, of Sewan, of Sakhar… You bless mothers with children, You safeguard fortunes of young girls*, O thou of Sindhdi, of Sewan, of Sakhar… All who have lit the flame of Dulhe, You fill their coffers Jhulelalan, O thou of Sindhdi, of Sewan, of Sakhar… O Peer* of Peers come to the centre of the ocean, In the name of the Lord ferry my boat across Jhulelalan, O thou of Sindhdi, of Sewan, of Sakhar…
Sources: Jai Jhulelal Beda I Paar (Collection of stories, songs, prayers of Jhulelal), Ahemadabad; Ke Saahitun Sajanan Saan: Sain Dr Rochaldas Sahibun Ji Satsangi Rihaan (Some Conversations with Dr Rochaldas), by Shri H.M. Damodar, 1991.
‘Keep my honour safe’: is reference to the fact that the devotee has surrendered to God. Here the devotee pleads with God to keep his name, respect, dignity in society intact. That is all what the devotee seeks of God in humility.
Jhulelalan: the ‘an’ ending is the suffix used to show endearment.
Sindhdi: the ‘di’ suffix is one showing endearment. Literally, Sindhdi, means Sindh. Sewan, Sakhar: places in Sindh. Mast Qalandar: refers to Qalandar Lal Shahbaaz, a peer. History gives different versions of him. According to Dr Rochaldas, a well-known saint from Sindh, Shahbaaz Qalandar even met Jhulelal. Shahbaaz Qalandar, fond of excursions, breathed his last at Sehwan, where a shrine is built in his name. Because his name as well as Jhulelal’s name has ‘Lal’, today, many consider both names referring to one person. This song is a fine example of how the Sindhi mind is not rigidly fanatic about one religion. Here Jhulelal -a Hindu God- is seen as one with Mast Qalandar -a Muslim Peer.
Dulhe: another name of Jhulelal.
You safeguard fortunes of young girls: this is a subtle way of praying to Jhulelal that he bless young girls with good husbands. A girl’s getting married to a worthy boy was seen as all that was needed for her well-being. This concept of a girl’s good life has not changed much even today.
Peer: a peer is believed to be close to the Almighty. Peers are known to have shown miracles to save their followers from trouble. There have been many peers in Sindh. It is not unusual to hear of Sindhi Hindu families in India also knowing and believing a peer. Even today festivities are held related to one peer or the other which are attended in huge numbers by both Hindus and Muslims. Singing of folk devotional songs throughout the night are a special feature of these fairs. These fairs are held in Sindh (Pakistan) and also in Kutch (India) even today.
3. Panjrâ by Ram Panjwani
Ram Panjwani was a Sindhi writer (1911-1987). He has written many plays, novels, essays mainly on social issues. His most important contribution to the Sindhi community lies in the fact that he reintroduced Uderolâl to Sindhi-Hindus in India, especially in Ulhasnagar, after the Partition.
Jhule Jhule Jhule Jhulelal Lal Sain Uderolal We, humble, full of vices, Dulaah*, at your door sell ourselves* Our state is not hidden from you Please keep us well Satguru* Sain* you fulfil our hopes Babal* Sain you ferry us across the ocean of life I am naked*, O pall-giver* Saviour of the helpless Jhule Jhule Jhule Jhulelal Sain
Source: Bharatiya Sindhu Sabha, Mumbai, Volume VI, Oct-Nov 2000, “Sindhi of the Millenium: Bhagat Kanwar Ram”, Editor and Publisher: Mohan Motwani, 5, Sai Parsad, Shivaji Park, Mumbai 400028.
Dulaah: a term for Jhulelal.
sell-ourselves: the idea here is that the devotee is worth nothing at the doorstep of God.
Satguru: ‘guru’ refers to teacher. ‘Sat’ refers to truth or the ultimate reality. Satguru here refers to Jhulelal.
Babal: endearing form of Baba. Baba is a term of reverence used to address any old man. Grandchildren usually address their grandfather as Baba.
Sain: term of address showing respect.
‘I am naked’: this line suggests complete surrender of the devotee to God. The devotee has nothing to hide from God. Pall-giver: God as giving the protective cover of the pall, covering the devotee’s nakedness to protect his honour.
Jürgen Schaflechner, Die Göttin Hiṅglāj Eine Untersuchung unter besonderer Berücksichtigung ihrer Bedeutung für die jāti der Brahmakṣatriya, MA thesis, Institut für Neuere Südasienstudien der Universität Heidelberg, 7 July 2009.
“Indological and Anthropological studies have for long ignored the shrine of Hiṅglāj Devi, or Nānī Mā as she is also called, in Baluchistan. This Magister thesis explores the narratives of this particular religious place and argues that its remote position and ancient history have, over the years, led to multiple and often overlapping mytho-historical oral traditions and writings. Such myths, often reflecting the socio-political changes of the area, are found among various religious communities and thus thwart a conventional segregation of religious taxonomies at the shrine. Due to such overlapping discourses the heuristic value of the concept of “Syncretism” is discussed and scrutinized for its usage within this case study.
The second part of the book focuses on the history and the symbolic interpretation of the shrine among one particular group, the Brahmakṣatriya/Khatrī caste of West Rajasthan. One of their main texts, the “Brahmakṣatriyotpatti Evaṃ Maṁ Hiṃgulāj” is given in translation from Hindi, to show how the goddess as a religious symbol, along with the power of a sanskritic-brahmanic discourse, are used to justify the caste´s claim to be of Kṣatriya origin.”
Keywords: Hinglaj Devi, Avar, Karni Mata, Carani Sagati, Lhatri Community, Brahmanksatriya, Parashurama, Mythology, Caran Community, Cultural Memory