Trinketisation in The Statesman – Lahiri


Durga in THEMELAND – 5 october 2006

The attempt to package a spiritual experience often finds the goddess getting lost in a crowd of disparate ideas, connected at random without any attention to the religious narrative. Ranabir Lahiri writes on how mass tourism has blurred the line between the fake and the real

The trinketisation of ethnicity and folk culture is widespread in the theming of Durga Puja in Bengal. This cultural addition has been immensely popular to tourists. Nowhere in the world has the sacred space of a people been so thoroughly invaded to turn it into a huge spectacle without origin, without history. There are only multiple themes and motifs that displace the traditional image of Durga. Devi is truly lost in a crowd of disparate themes, connected at random without any attention to the central religious narrative. The theme puja has turned out to be the most subversive of popular cultural practices by foregrounding and commodifying the spectacle.

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About john hutnyk

Writer on culture, cities, diaspora, history, film, prisons, colonialism, education, Marxism. Studied and taught in Australia at Deakin and Melbourne Universities; and in the UK in Manchester University’s Institute for Creative and Cultural Research; before moving to Goldsmiths in 1998, and becoming Academic Director of the Centre for Cultural Studies in 2004-2014. Has held visiting researcher posts in Germany at the South Asia Institute and Institute fur Ethnologie at Heidelberg University, and Visiting Professor posts in InterCultural Studies at Nagoya City University Japan, Zeppelin University and Hamburg University, Germany, Sociology at Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul, Turkey and at the Graduate institute for Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. Immediate past adjunct Professor of RMIT University, Melbourne and GIAN Visiting Professor Jadavpur Uni Kolkata.
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