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Diasporic Lived Religion in the Times of COVID-19: The Case of Durga Puja Festivals in Pandemic Britain
In this seminar, I will use the sociological lens of lived religion to unpack the way diasporic Hindu Bengalis in Britain dealt with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in staging their autumnal Durga Puja festival which centres around the worship of the goddess Durga. The public health measures introduced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for community groups to host in-person indoor Durga Puja festivities which are pivotal to the social calendar of diasporic Hindu Bengalis. Instead, in the autumn of 2020, many UK-based Durga Puja organisers staged small-scale ritual worship of the goddess in private and then livestreamed it to their members through social media. Based on participant observation of these festival livestreams and remote interviews with Durga Puja organisers from across Britain, I demonstrate that far from being a break with the past these blended Durga Puja festivals built on established templates of mediatisation of religious practices and are part of the wider continuum of adaptations that characterise diasporic lived religion. I also reflect on how internal hierarchies within the diaspora played out vis-à-vis blended Pujas amidst the pandemic.

Nov 25, 2021 01:00 PM in Dublin

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