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Title: Communities Coexistence and Interactions:Processes of Syncretism in the Haji Malang Complex and Associated
Authors: Shyam, Rama
Keywords: Roy Burman, J.J.
School of Social Sciences
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Abstract: The present research study is situated against the dominant narrative of categorising religious communities into neat little boxes that do not interact meaningfully and often resort to conflict. The study aims at opening up these boxes in order to challenge the dominant narrative of binarism and expose the permeability inherent in societies across the world. In so doing, the study draws from existing literature that defines religion and faith even as it attempts to conceptualise the ever shifting phenomena of syncretism and liminality - processes that attempt to lay out the contexts within which people interact with each other through rituals, socio-historical and political interfaces and through association of meaning to symbols and spaces. Syncretism essentially focuses on the permeability and fluidity of religious situations, It has been rightly said by Peter van der Veer (1994: 208) that "This can be seen as such a broad process that indeed every religion is syncretistic, since it constantly draws upon heterogeneous elements to the extent that it is often impossible for the historian to unravel what comes from where". This is where Eliade (1987) says that a social presupposition for the rise of syncretism can be the coexistence of various groups. The ethos of coexistence also implies resistance, contestation and power dimensions thus creating an arena where social interactions are constantly negotiated within the premise of pragmatism, accommodations and creating shared spaces. The research concern emerged from a personal need to comprehend categories that are often employed to determine the homogeneity of religious identities. A deep analytical study of concepts of syncretism and liminality exposed the researcher to a world where people cut across normative boundaries to challenge categorical religions. What become more important to them are the religious experiences and their faith and devotion to saints who have the miraculous powers to ward off evil. Within this premise, the study began with the following objectives: • To explore and understand the phenomenon of syncretism at various levels Syncretism is most evident in the everyday interactions of people and communities. The aim is to capture these interactions and to examine the various implications they have on people's lives on an everyday basis • To study a case where symbols and people are actively engaged in an attempt to make meaning of beliefs that cut across religious identities Devotees from diverse backgrounds throng to Haji Malang to seek blessings and ask for wishes to be granted. They also make offerings when wishes are granted. An understanding of their perspectives would lead us to understand the broader objective stated above • To examine the role of syncretism in controlling communal conflicts and augmenting chances of peace and harmony Haji Malang as a site comprises a big shrine of Haji Malang Baba along with numerous other shrines (temples, mazars. chillahs, dargahs. devsthan). The relationship between these places of worship and veneration would help us understand the processes of accommodation of various fragments to form a complex whole • To arrive at an understanding of the theoretical premise of syncretism within the context of state and civilisation The concept of state denotes political boundaries thus defining nationalities. The study aims to explore how at the level of people, boundaries are defied as they come together at shrines of saints who symbolise, the transcendental nature of socio-religious interactions Located in Maharashtra, the study was conducted at Haji Malang in Thane district. The exercise centred around the dargah of Haji Malang Shah Baba situated atop a mountain sixteen kilometers from Kalyan town. Literature review on Maharashtra revealed that the region has been a historical witness to intersections of communities, polities and socio- historical shifts on a continuous basis. Against this backdrop, the study attempted to understand the processes that contributed to Haji Malang as a shared complex.
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02_acknowledgments.pdf74.63 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
03_abstract.pdf144.11 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
04_contents.pdf33.11 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
05_chapter 1.pdf742.25 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
06_chapter 2.pdf931.99 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
07_chapter 3.pdf990.36 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
08_chapter 4.pdf830.66 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
09_chapter 5.pdf978.1 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
10_chapter 6.pdf1.18 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
11_chapter 7.pdf1.17 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
12_chapter 8.pdf531.17 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
13_references.pdf366.6 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
14_glossery of terms.pdf67.96 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
15_appendix.pdf364.83 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

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