Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

2 - Temples and Temple Processions in Hinduism in Europe

Friday, July 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Magnolia, Lower Ground Floor

The paper gives an overview of Hindu temple processions in Europe. Temple processions are an important dimension of temple Hinduism in Europe and should be understood as extensions of temple rituals. They are of special importance to Tamil Hindus, who constitute the dominant group of Hindus in many European countries, especially those with the large population of Hindus, such as France, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries. Each temple has an annual procession ritual that celebrates the founding of the temple. In these processions, the utsava murtis (festival icons) of the temple gods are in the center. Every day for ten or twelve days of the festival, the utsava murtis are moved out of the temple with the help of a number of priests and temple musicians. These procession rituals constitute the main annual public event of the temples. The processions bring the temple rituals out on the street for public display, and these rituals attract the highest number of devotees to the temple annually. The stated purpose of the rituals is to entertain the temple deities who for the rest of the year never leave the temple. The paper argues that the increase in Hindu temple processions during the last two decades in Europe has to do with groups gaining greater confidence and a wish for recognition. They also have a lot to do with the maintenance and generation of religious identities and their generational transfer, religious rivalry, and the maintenance as well as the promotion of a diasporic consciousness.

Knut Jacobsen

University of Bergen, Norway

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