Consuming Envy

Food, Authority and the Continuity of Vernacular Traditions in the Gujarati Hindu Diaspora

Authors

  • Martin Oran Wood University of Bristol

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/firn.v5i1.97

Keywords:

Diaspora, Gujarātī Hindu, Najar, Vernacular

Abstract

This paper examines the phenomenon of najar, the evil eye, in relation to beliefs and practices concerning food among Gujarati Hindus in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Certain Gujarati Hindu traditions tend to publically dismiss najar, however, others engage with it and najar continues to play a substantial role in the day-to-day experience of Gujarati Hindus in this context. Drawing on extensive field research in the United Kingdom and complementary research in New Zealand, I provide an account of concepts and notions concerning najar and examine the extent to which wider considerations of belief and practice underpin belief or disbelief in najar, especially in relation to food. Finally, I examine najar in relation to the question of authority among Gujarati Hindu traditions in the diaspora and the problem of privileging of what are referred to as “representative” versions of Hinduism over “vernacular” traditions when it comes to fieldwork and presenting our findings concerning Hinduism in the academy.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Martin Oran Wood, University of Bristol

Honorary Research Fellow, Dept. Theology and Religious Studies at University of Bristol and and Guest Lecturer in Hinduism and Methodology and Contemporary Spiritualities at Bath Spa University

References

Aull Davies, C. 1999. Reflexive Ethnography: A Guide to Researching Selves and Others. London: Routledge.

Adler, L. L., and B. R. Mukherji eds. 1994. Spirit versus Scalpel: Traditional Healing and Modern Psychotherapy. Westport: Greenwood.

Ballard, R. 1996. “Panth, Kismet, Dharm te Qaum: Continuity and Change in Four Dimensions of Punjabi Religion,” in Pritam Singh and Shinder Thandi eds. Globalisation and the Religion: Explorations of Punjabi Identity. Coventry: Coventry University Press, 7–37.

Banerjee, S. 2002. Logic in a Popular Form. Essays on Popular Religion in Bengal. Calcutta: Seagull Books.

Bowen, P., ed. 1998. Themes and Issues in Hinduism. London: Cassell.

Bowker, J. 1997. The Oxford Dictionary of World Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bhasin, V. 2003. “Sickness and Therapy among Tribals of Rajasthan,” Study of Tribes and Tribals, 1: 77–83. (www.krepublishers.com/...2003...2003...2003–Bhasin/T%20&%20T01–1–077–083–2003–Bhasin.pdf)

Bhopal, R. S. 1986. “The Inter-relationship of Folk, Traditional and Western Medicine within an Asian Community in Britain,” Social Science and Medicine, 22: 99–105. doi:10.1016/ 0277-9536(86)90313-8

Bowman, M. 1992. Phenomenology, Fieldwork and Folk Religion. British Association for the Study of Religion, Cardiff.

Burghart, R. ed. 1987. Hinduism in Great Britain: Religion in an Alien Cultural Milieu. London: Tavistock.

Crooke, W., and R. E. Eindhoven. 1925. Religion and Folklore of Northern India. New Delhi: Chand.

Dave, R. M. 1994. S?hajanand Charitra. Swaminarayan Aksharpith: Amdavad.

Dempsey, C. G., and S. Raj eds. 2008. Miracle as Modern Conundrum in South Asian Religious Traditions. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Dundes, A., ed. 1981. The Evil Eye: A Casebook. Madison: University of Winsconsin Press.

Dwyer, G. 2003. The Divine and the Demoniac: Supernatural Afflictions and its Treatment in North India. New York: Routledge Curzon. doi:10.4324/9780203222539

Eck, D. 1998. Dar?an: Seeing the Divine Image in India. New York: Columbia University Press, 3rd edn.

Flood, G. 1996. An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Foulston, L., and S. Abbott. 2009. Hindu Goddesses: Beliefs and Practices. Brighton, Sussex and Portland, Oregon: Sussex Academic Press.

Fuller, C. J. 2004. The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Geaves, R. 1999. “The Authentication of a Punjabi Regional Folk Cult in the West Midlands,” Scottish Journal of Religious Studies, 20.1, 37–50.

—2007. Saivism in the Diaspora: Contemporary Forms of Skanda Worship. London: Equinox.

Jackson, R., and E. Nesbitt. 1993. Hindu Children in Britain. Stoke on Trent: Trentham.

Jn?neshward?s, Sadhu, and Sadhu Mukundcharandas. 2001. Hindu Rites and Rituals. Swaminarayan Aksharpith, Amdavad.

Khan, R., R. Goddard and J. Toogood. 2005. “Ebbs and Flows: Patterns of Fiji Indian Migration,” ABERU Discussion Paper, 13.

Kim, H. 2008. “Managing Deterritorialisation, Sustaining Belief: The Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purrushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha as Case Study and Ethnographic Foil,” in Armin W. Geertz and Margit Warburg, New Religions & Globalisation: Empirical, Theoretical and Methodological Perspectives. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 225–43.

Klostermaier, K. 1998. A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Oxford: One World.

Knott, K. 1986. Hinduism in Leeds: A Study of Religious Practice in Indian Hindu Community and Related Groups. Monograph Series Community Religions Project, University of Leeds.

Kramrisch, S. 1965. The Art of India Through the Ages. London: Phaidon Press.

—1976. The Hindu Temple, Vol 2. Delhi: Motilal Banarsisdass.

Leckie, J. 1998. “The Southernmost Indian Diaspora: From Gujar?t to Aotearoa,” South Asia, XXI, 161–80.

—2007. Indian Settlers: The Story of A New Zealand South Asian Community. Otago University Press: Otago.

Leslie, J. 2003. Authority and Meaning In Indian Religion: Hinduism and Case of V?lm?ki. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Maloney, C., ed. 1976. The Evil Eye. New York: Columbia University Press.

McDaniel, J. 2004. Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls. Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Marriott, M. 1955. “Little Communities in an Indigenous Civilisation,” in M. Marriott ed. Village India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 171–223.

Mattausch, J. 1993. “The British and The Gujar?t?,” Centre For Ethnic Minority Studies Occasional Paper, Royal Holloway College.

—1998. “From Subjects to Citizens: British East African Asians,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 24, 121–41. doi:10.1080/1369183X.1998.9976621

Mawani, S., and A. M. Anjoom eds. 2007. Gujar?t?s in the West: Evolving Identities in Contemporary Society. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Michaels, A. 2004. Hinduism Past and Present. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Mukundcharandas, Sadhu. 1999. Handbook to the Vachanamrutam. Amdavad: Swaminarayan Aksharpith.

Nye, M. 1995. A Place for our Gods. Richmond: Curzon Press.

Ollivelle, P. 1996. Upani?ads. Oxford: Oxford World Classics.

Pocock, D. F. 1973. Mind, Body and Wealth. Oxford: Blackwell.

Primiano, L. N. 1995. “ ‘Vernacular’ Religion and the Search For Method in Religious Folklife,” Western Folklore, 54, 37–56. doi:10.2307/1499910

Raj, S. J., and W. P. Harman. 2006. Dealing with Deities: The Ritual Vow in South Asia. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Smith, F. M. 2006. The Self Possessed: Deity and Spirit Possession in South Asian Literature and Civilisation. New York: Columbia University Press.

Srinavas, M. N., and A. M. Shah. 1968. “Hinduism,” in D. L. Stills ed. International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences. New York: New American Library.

Spiro, A. M. 2005. “Najar and Bhut – Evil Eye or Ghost Affliction: Gujar?t? Views about Illness Causation,” Anthropology and Medicine, 12, 61–73. doi:10.1080/13648470500049867

Vertovec, S. 2000. The Hindu Diaspora: Comparative Patterns. London: Routledge.

Waghorne, J. P., and N. Cutler. 1985. Gods of Flesh/Gods of Stone: TheEmbodiment of Divinity in India. New York: Columbia University Press.

Weightman, S. 1978. Hinduism in the Village Setting. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Weiss, R. S. 2009. Recipes for Immortality: Medicine, Religion, and Community in South India. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Williams, R. B. 2001. An Introduction to Swaminarayan Hinduism. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Wood, M. O. 2008. “Divine Appetites: Food Miracles, Authority and Religious Identities in the Gujar?t? Hindu Diaspora,” Journal of Contemporary Religion, 23, 337–53. doi:10.1080/ 13537900802373304

—2009. “Food of Devotion: Food, Authority and Identity in the Gujar?t? Hindu Diaspora,” Doctoral thesis, University of Bristol.

—2010. “Jalar?m B?p?: The Public Expression of Regional Vernacular Traditions among Gujar?t? Hindus in the UK,” Journal of Hindu Studies, 2.238–57.

Woodburne, A. S. 1935. “The Evil Eye in South Indian Folklore,” International Review of Missions, 24, 237–47.

Yoder, D. 1974. “Toward an Official Definition of Folk Religion,” Western Folklore, 33, 2–15. doi:10.2307/1498248

Published

2010-11-05

How to Cite

Wood, M. (2010). Consuming Envy: Food, Authority and the Continuity of Vernacular Traditions in the Gujarati Hindu Diaspora. Fieldwork in Religion, 5(1), 97–118. https://doi.org/10.1558/firn.v5i1.97

Issue

Section

Articles