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Saivism in the Diaspora

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The book will explore contemporary manifestations of the worship of Siva that have transmigrated to the West. It explores Hindu vernacular traditions or ‘village Hinduism’ especially in the context of the Hindu diaspora, where the general assumption is that such forms of Hinduism cannot survive as they lack the infrastructure and the rural environment. Based on extensive fieldwork in Britain and India, the author shows that significant developments are taking place where Hindu communities have achieved sufficient concentration for various movements to appear that reproduce ‘folk traditions’ connected to a particular locale in the subcontinent. These movements often display a focus on the pragmatic or apotropaic motivation for worship of deities associated with healing. The focus is on the Baba Balaknath communities originating in the Punjab and Himachal Pradesh; the worship of Murugan amongst Tamil populations and the Community of the Many Names of God in Wales which originated in the worship of Subramaniyam in Shri Lanka. The book will not only throw some clarity on changing beliefs and practices in the Hindu diaspora, particularly the role of the apotropaic or pragmatic dimension, it will also help to understand important theoretical concepts such as Sanskritisation and the relationship between the ‘Little Tradition’ and the ‘Great Tradition’ or All-India and local traditions.

Published: Nov 1, 2007

Section Chapter Authors
Preface Ron Geaves
Chapter 1
Introduction Ron Geaves
Chapter 2
Siva and his Family Ron Geaves
Chapter 3
The Worship of Murugan in South India and Sri Lanka Ron Geaves
Chapter 4
The Worship of Baba Balaknath in the Punjab Ron Geaves
Chapter 5
Migration Patterns and Relocation of Religious Tradition Ron Geaves
Chapter 6
The Worship of Baba Balaknath in Britain Ron Geaves
Chapter 7
Punjabi Pilgaimages: Shahtalai Ron Geaves
Chapter 8
Punjabi Pilgimages: The Tirtha Yatra Ron Geaves
Chapter 9
Murugan Worship in Britain Ron Geaves
Chapter 10
The Role of Ritual in the Diaspora Tamil Saivite Temple Ron Geaves
Chapter 11
Murugan Worship in Britain: Skanda Vale Ron Geaves
Chapter 12
Vernacular and Scriptural: Sanskrization Revisited Ron Geaves
End Matter
Endnotes Ron Geaves
Bibliography Ron Geaves
Index Ron Geaves

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This is a fascinating, jam-packed discussion of contemporary Saiva ritual and pilgrimage, especially as found in Panjab, Tamil Sri Lanka and Britain.
Karen Pechilis, Drew University, Religious Studies Review

Saivism in the Diaspora: Contemporary Forms of Skanda Worship by Ron Geaves is incisive, highly informative, methodologically challenging and written in a lively and accessible style. It will surely become required reading for all scholars and students of religion interested in South Asian communities in the UK.
Fieldwork in Religion