The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York: Breaking Convention by Corinne G. Dempsey

By Corinne G. Dempsey

The Goddess Lives in Upstate big apple is a profile of a flourishing Hindu temple within the city of Rush, manhattan. The temple, proven through a charismatic nonbrahman Sri Lankan Tamil often called Aiya, stands proud for its mixture of orthodox ritual meticulousness and socioreligious iconoclasm. The power with which devotees perform ritual themselves and their prepared entry to the deities contrasts sharply with ritual actions at so much North American Hindu temples, the place (following the standard Indian customized) ritual is played purely via clergymen and entry to the hugely sanctified divine pictures is heavily guarded. Drawing on numerous years of fieldwork, Dempsey weaves conventional South Asian stories, temple miracle debts, and devotional testimonials into an research of the particular dynamics of diaspora Hinduism. She explores the ways that the goddess, the guru, and temple contributors stay at cultural and spiritual intersections, noting how differences among wonderful and mundane, conference and non-convention, and family and international are extra usually intertwined and interdependent than in tidy competition. This full of life and available paintings is a special and demanding contribution to diaspora Hindu experiences.

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The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York: Breaking Convention and Making Home at a North American Hindu Temple

The Goddess Lives in Upstate ny is a profile of a flourishing Hindu temple within the city of Rush, big apple. The temple, demonstrated by way of a charismatic nonbrahman Sri Lankan Tamil often called Aiya, stands proud for its mixture of orthodox ritual meticulousness and socioreligious iconoclasm. The power with which devotees perform ritual themselves and their prepared entry to the deities contrasts sharply with ritual actions at such a lot North American Hindu temples, the place (following the standard Indian customized) ritual is played basically through clergymen and entry to the hugely sanctified divine pictures is heavily guarded.

Additional info for The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York: Breaking Convention and Making Home at a North American Hindu Temple

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The burning palms of her hands and soles of her feet I was not familiar with. Taking this in and then continuing, Linda described how, when Aiya performed pu¯ja¯ at the different deities’ stations, she felt different cakra points in her body burn with the same intense electric heat. When he circumambulated the nine planets, she said she was overwhelmed with such emotion, it took everything in her not to cry. Finally, when Aiya performed his customary blessing of a lifesized picture of goddess Ka¯ma¯ksfi¯ı, holding up the camphor flame in front of different parts of her body, Linda felt the corresponding areas of her body lighting up with heat.

13 I was interested to find that this tradition of scholarly detachment is not unknown to temple members. On several occasions, people who discussed with me my approach to writing this book have worried whether my somewhat insider perspective might jeopardize my chances for tenure and promotion in my job. When Aiya came to Wisconsin in the spring of 2002 to guest lecture for one of my classes, he “slipped” and referred to the fact that I had performed pu¯ja¯ at his temple. ” As I laughed and nodded and the rest of the room erupted in laughter, I was struck by Aiya’s concern that I be portrayed to the outside academic world as a detached observer.

Everyone looked surprised and impressed except for Aiya. He nodded as I talked, as though confirmed in his initial assessment of Linda. Piquing his interest a bit was my description of how her body reacted corre- temple entryways 29 spondingly to the camphor flame blessing of Ka¯ma¯ksfi¯ı. He noted, with some enthusiasm, how nicely this demonstrates how we are truly one and the same with the goddess. The following week Krishna and Mangala, both doctors originally from Sri Lanka, were visiting Rush from southern California.

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