The Powerful Ephemeral: Everyday Healing in an Ambiguously Islamic Place

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University of California Press, Aug 5, 2011 - Social Science - 282 pages
The violent partitioning of British India along religious lines and ongoing communalist aggression have compelled Indian citizens to contend with the notion that an exclusive, fixed religious identity is fundamental to selfhood. Even so, Muslim saint shrines known as dargahs attract a religiously diverse range of pilgrims. In this accessible and groundbreaking ethnography, Carla Bellamy traces the long-term healing processes of Muslim and Hindu devotees of a complex of dargahs in northwestern India. Drawing on pilgrims’ narratives, ritual and everyday practices, archival documents, and popular publications in Hindi and Urdu, Bellamy considers questions about the nature of religion in general and Indian religion in particular. Grounded in stories from individual lives and experiences, The Powerful Ephemeral offers not only a humane, highly readable portrait of dargah culture, but also new insight into notions of selfhood and religious difference in contemporary India.
 

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Contents

musain ekrī and Indian
1
e Making of a Pilgrimage and a Pilgrimage Center
31
e Tale of the Four Virtuous Women
49
Lobān Volunteerism and Abundance
94
e Work and Workings of māŒirī
129
Transgression Otherness Cosmopolitanism
172
Dargān Culture
215
Glossary
257
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About the author (2011)

Carla Bellamy is Assistant Professor of South Asian Religion at Baruch College.

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