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Playing Host to DeityFestival Religion in the South Indian Tradition$
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Paul Younger

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195140446

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195140443.001.0001

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Suburban Promises

Suburban Promises

A Kavati Festival in South Africa

(p.144) 13 Suburban Promises
Playing Host to Deity

Paul Younger

Oxford University Press

The diaspora experience of the indentured laborers in South Africa was different from those who went to Guyana, primarily because in South Africa they were able to leave plantation work within the first generation and try to find themselves in a complex society where Gandhi was already leading a movement to insist that they had civil rights. In moving to the outskirts of Durban, the former indentured workers tried to raise their social status by adopting high‐caste names and by building Brahmanical temples rather than Mariyamman temples. The most distinguished of these Brahmanical temples is the Umgemi Road Temple of Sivan, and the celebrated kavati festival of that temple is in honor of Sivan's son Murukan. This festival includes many dancers having hooks put through their flesh to hold the kavati in place, but the most prominent people in the procession are the business and political leaders of this very modern Indian community.

Keywords:   Brahmanical, dance, diaspora, Durban, Gandhi, indentured laborers, Mariyamman, Murukan, Sivan, Umgemi Road Temple

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