RELIGION, CASTE AND COMMUNITY: IDENTITY SUBSTANTIATION THROUGH ‘MAILE’ CONGREGATIONS2 AMONG THE DORGAS OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR (INDIA)
In the postmodern world, the so-called ‘pre-established’ identities have become questionable in the senses of belonging to well-defined communities with stable self-perception and also with recognized codes of behavior. The renewed interest in identity and the construction of knowledge from the 1990s onwards has provoked a shift from considering communities as ‘given’ to investigating the power relations and discourses by which they are constantly defined and redefined. Substantiating the domain of religion as one where ‘magic bullet’ explanations are rife, the political connotation of ‘identity’ vis-à-vis religion also links contemporary religion to identity. In India, the varieties of social collectivities such as castes, religion, clan, communities etc have tended to be shaped in the name of ethnic and social identities. Thus it is high time to study the status of religio-cultural practices in the modern world and to identify their relevance in contemporary society. This paper not only attempts to highlight the ‘maile’ congregation (annual community gathering) through ‘kul-deity’ worship as adaptation and continuity of traditional elements in the modern circumstances but also tries to extract the political dimension of the phenomenon.
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