The South Asianist 2018-10-31T08:27:10+00:00 Dr. Michael Heneise Open Journal Systems <p>The South Asianist Journal is an open access, interdisciplinary academic journal examining social, ecological, linguistic, religious, political and economic issues affecting South Asia. At its core is the vision to open research on and in South Asia to as wide an audience as possible. With this in mind, articles and reviews are complimented by flexible formats such as exploratory essays, photo essays, and videos. Among the many advantages of our open access policy is that, although authors retain copyright, our high-quality publications are free to view or download anytime, anywhere, by anyone with a basic internet connection.</p> Introduction 2018-10-22T17:17:40+01:00 Mathieu Claveyrolas Anthony Goreau-Ponceaud Delon Madavan Éric Meyer Pierre-Yves Trouillet <div class="page" title="Page 2"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>Who is a Hindu? was the famous subtitle chosen by Savarkar for his nationalist pamphlet founding the Hindutva ideology in 19231. We know about the legal difficulties faced by the British (among others) to define Hindus and Hinduism, and the resulting solution, which defined being Hindu by default: being Hindu meant not being Muslim, nor Christian, nor Sikh, nor Buddhist, nor anything else. This is a rather extreme example of the necessity to define the Other when it comes to defining oneself (Mohammad-Arid &amp; Ripert 2014).</p> <p>Following a workshop held in Paris in 20152, the purpose of this special issue is to start from the Sri Lankan case to study how Hinduism and Hindus define others and interact with them, and what these interactions reveal about Hinduism in general and about Sri Lankan Hinduism in particular, especially regarding religious, social, political and territorial issues. By addressing relations to the Other from the Hindu point of view, the issue proposes more broadly to develop a critical conception of Hinduism that considers this religion as a point of contact between various social and religious groups. Indeed, we argue that questioning the importance of these multiple realities of contact, whether they are recognised or denied, also helps to renew the debate about the challenges of defining Hinduism, articulated by both Hindus and scholars.</p> </div> </div> </div> 2018-10-22T00:00:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## The goddess of the tea estates 2018-10-22T16:26:38+01:00 Daniel Mark Bass <div class="page" title="Page 2"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>Annual festivals to the Hindu goddess Mariyamman are the largest events that Up-country Tamils organise for themselves, and they invest tremendous amounts of time, effort, money and meaning into these celebrations. Up-country Tamils are descendants of South Indian migrants, who came between the 1870s and 1930s to work on tea plantations in the island’s central highlands, or up-country. In this article, I focus on how the various rituals, ceremonies and processions that take place during tea plantation festivals mark external and internal community boundaries. Through the performance of these rituals, Up-country Tamils make meaningful sacred places for themselves in the diaspora out of Sri Lankan spaces. In doing so, Up-country Tamil communities not only differentiate themselves from neighbouring communities of fellow Up-country Tamils, but also from their elders’ and ancestors’ communities, through the transformation of Hindu traditions. By looking at the planning and execution of such ritual activities, including when things did not happen as planned, I show how Up-country Tamils understand internal differences, especially along caste lines, and construct their cultural heritage, while presenting a common front to outsiders, whether Sinhalas or Jaffna Tamils. Though outwardly religious, these festivals have become embedded expressions of ethnic identification in the up-country. Some of the ritual practices of these festivals, such as hook-swinging, are rarely practiced in India today, yet have become central to the performance of Up-country Tamil ethnic identification and cultural heritage in the diaspora.</p> </div> </div> </div> 2018-10-22T00:00:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Lighting incense and oil lamps during Jum'a 2018-10-31T08:27:10+00:00 Merin Shobhana Xavier <div class="page" title="Page 2"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>The northern province of Jaffna is generally viewed as a Tamil Hindu heartland. This contribution, however, nuances this religiously homogenous view of this region through a case study of Hindu participation and engagement with Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam. It centres on the figure of Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen (d. 1986) and his adherents and spaces. Bawa was a Tamil teacher who formed his ministries in Jaffna prior to his migration to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1971. His arrival in America led to the development of a transnational religious community. In Jaffna, the two prominent spaces for Bawa’s community are his ashram (house) in Jaffna town and a mosque-shrine (masjid-mazar) known as Mankumban on Velanai (or Kayts) Island. Mankumban contained a memorial tomb to Maryam (Mary), which was removed in 2017. During Bawa’s tenure and since the end of the nearly three-decade civil war in Sri Lanka, these spaces have been dominated mainly by local Tamil Hindus. Hindu followers of Bawa remain foremost leaders of these spaces. They cook kanji (rice soup) to break the fast during Ramadan (a month of fasting), celebrate mawlid (birthdays of the Prophet Muhammad and saint ‘Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (d. 1166)) and prepare for jum‘a (Friday prayers) and/or poosai (prayer ritual). Using ethnographic data, this contribution explores how Hindu followers of Bawa are preserving and transforming Sufi- Islamic practices in contemporary Northern Sri Lanka, which has then raised issues of authenticity and orthodoxy with regards to their performance of piety by Muslims in the same movement. How these negotiations are unfolding in this movement nuances not only how Hinduism and Sufism are developing in Sri Lanka, but in South Asia as a whole.</p> </div> </div> </div> 2018-10-22T00:00:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Competitive sharing 2018-10-22T16:39:38+01:00 Premakumara De Silva <div class="page" title="Page 2"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>The paradox of politics and nationalism in modern Buddhist polities is particularly acute in Sri Lanka, a historically multicultural and multi-faith island where four great world religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, a range of indigenous spirit beliefs, pilgrimages and astrology, have coexisted for centuries. This paper explained how such plural worship, particularly Hindu worship at Sri Pada temple, began to fade away with the advent of hegemonic Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism in (post) colonial Sri Lanka while to some extent accommodating a group of Up-country Tamil Hindus who accept the dominance of Sinhala Buddhist polity. Historically speaking, Sri Pada would have been the model for the post- colonial state formation where all ethnic communities could have been accommodated and respected as full citizens of Sri Lanka. Like modern Sri Pada, the state that has been created in post-colonial Sri Lanka became a model of Sinhala Buddhist dominance in which minority groups have not been accommodated to express their concerns without subscribing to the Buddhist dominance. The state should be able to function without immediately putting into question the political loyalty of a group whose religious allegiance is different from the ruler’s. The use of shrines as symbols of dominance is not limited to Buddhism in Sri Lanka and, as Hayden explains, it is quite evident in Non-Buddhist religions in South Asia and the Balkans and even beyond such regions.</p> </div> </div> </div> 2018-10-22T00:00:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Sri Lankan Tamil Hindus and other Tamis in the Montréal diaspora 2018-10-22T16:54:19+01:00 Mark Bradley <div class="page" title="Page 2"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>According to a recent study published by Statistics Canada, in 2036, more than half of immigrants in Canada will be of Asian origin, and South Asians will be the group with most people. Today Tamil people represent the most important South Asian group in Montréal, but their profiles and stories are many and diverse. Immigrants of Indian origin, refugees from the civil war in Sri Lanka or re-settlers from Malaysia or Africa, they recount dissimilar migration histories and profess different faiths. Focusing on the largest group, the Sri Lankan Tamil Saivite Hindus, this paper explores the relationships of this group with other Tamils living in Montréal, namely Tamil Catholics and Pentecostal Christians, as well as with Tamil Hindus of Indian origin. Also, this article discusses the different strategies of integration of these Tamil communities into the French-speaking majority of Québec and the English-speaking majority of Canada, which represent a main figure of the ‘Otherness’ encountered by the Sri Lankan Tamil Hindus in this diasporic context. More broadly, the article shows that the development of Hindu religious solidarities and interplays in diaspora depend on the socio-cultural composition and cohesion of the Hindu groups, but also on their migration stories, and on the social and political context of the host country. As a result, it turns out that in Montréal, Sri Lankan Hindus feel much closer to Sri Lankan Catholics than to Indian Tamil Hindus, which seems to imply that the sharing of the same land of origin, language, and migration pattern, is much more important than the belonging to Hindu religion in the re-building of togetherness and solidarity.</p> </div> </div> </div> 2018-10-22T00:00:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## Religious dynamics of Sri Lankan Hindu Tamils in Paris 2018-10-22T17:03:00+01:00 Anthony Goreau-Ponceaud <div class="page" title="Page 2"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>Since the 1980s, refugees from Sri Lanka have been living in France and make up the largest Hindu group. In recent years, this migration, and more generally the South Asian migration, has radically transformed the French social landscape leading to questions about how Hinduism and Hindus define ‘Others’ and interact with them, and what these exchanges reveal about Sri Lankan Hinduism. In a context of dramatic growth in religious diversity, Hinduism represents not only a minority religious tradition but also a challenge to French laïcité. A new visibility/invisibility dialectical relation has also become a major issue. Although the presence of the religion may be discreet and hidden, religious processions make a powerful impression, such as Ganesh Chaturthi organised by Sri Manicka Vinayakar Alayam every year in the streets of Paris. Moreover, such transformations born from the increased visibility of Sri Lankans are often perceived by other Tamils who settled earlier in France (from Pondicherry, from the Caribbean and from Indian ocean islands) as an intrusion of ‘newcomers’, threatening their identity and integration process in French society. I will discuss the changing dimension of religious questions in an urban environment by exploring immigration, religion and space. Between the local (the street, the ‘quartier’) and the global (transnational migration nexus), I will analyse space as a medium of social connections which sheds new light on the reconfiguration of religion. Through the study of the internal multiplicity of Tamil immigration and of the localisation of places of worship, I explore the development of Sri Lankan Hinduism in Paris and its metropolitan region. I will also show how Hindus negotiate their status and sometimes transform their practices to be accepted by the host state.</p> </div> </div> </div> 2018-10-22T00:00:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement## The incorporation and transformation of a ‘Hindu’ goddess 2018-10-22T17:12:43+01:00 Malathi de Alwis <div class="page" title="Page 2"> <div class="layoutArea"> <div class="column"> <p>The worship of goddess Kannaki-Pattini is unique to Sri Lanka, a country in which one can discern two strands of worship that illuminate both the precarity and resiliency of a ‘Hindu’ ‘other’ within a primarily Sinhala Buddhist polity. This article will focus on the transformation of Kannaki into a unique Hindu deity as well as the incorporation and transformation of this same deity into a Buddhist one —worshipped as Pattini. This complex form of co-habitation/ syncretism is explored through the concept of ‘multireligiosity,’ as four major ‘world religions’ co-exist within Sri Lanka: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Divergences and convergences of origin myths and arrival narratives will be analysed along with a consideration of certain sacred spaces of ‘multireligiosity’ associated with this goddess that seem to be fissuring at the seams in a post-war context of Sinhala Buddhist hegemony and expansion.</p> </div> </div> </div> 2018-10-22T00:00:00+01:00 ##submission.copyrightStatement##