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Sacred Spaces: Exploring Traditions of Shared Faith in India

Yoginder Sikand (Translator)
Synopsis The politics of communal hatred in recent times has brought under attack the heterodoxy of our religious life. This book explores popular religious cults from various parts of the country that defy the logic of communities as neatly separated from and necessarily opposed to each other. Travelling from Kerala to war-torn Kashmir, and from Punjab to Madhya Pradesh, through twenty-five places of popular pilgrimage—dargahs, temples and shrines—Yoginder Sikand finds followers from different communities flocking together in common worship. At Hazrat Nund Rishi at Charar-e-Sharif, or the Wavar shrine at the Ayyappa pilgrimage of Sabarimala, at the temple of Goddess Elamma of Sauditti, or the Dargah of Sarmad of Delhi, Sikand meets saints, keepers and devotees to discover how traditions associated with these places have historically challenged religious as well as secular elites, and offered their adherents a powerful and deeply humanist vision of the sacred, freed from the narrow boundaries of caste and creed. But it is also noteworthy that some of these shrines, such as the Swami Dattatreya Budhan Baba in Karnataka, have been transformed over time and become sites of communal contestation. Weaving together legend, history, ethnography and reminiscences with critical insights, Sacred Spaces affords us a rare glimpse of religious traditions outside the mainstream. This rich legacy could well be invaluable in promoting alternate ways of understanding religion and the notion of community identity, a need that has never been more urgent than it is today.
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About the author

Yoginder Sikand

Yoginder Sikand is the author of over a dozen books on Islam and Muslims in South Asia. He has a PhD in History from the University of London, and was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, Leiden, The Netherlands. He is presently associated with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion at the National Law School, Bangalore.

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Bibliographic information

Title Sacred Spaces: Exploring Traditions of Shared Faith in India
Format Softcover
Date published: 01.01.2003
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 0143029312
length viii+273p., References; 20cm.