Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

2 - The Image of Hajji: Representation of Cultural Self, Pauper Pilgrim and Sacred Geography in the Hajj Narratives of Malabar

Saturday, July 7
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Casuarina, Lower Ground Floor

This paper deals with the Hajj narratives from Malabar, a region situated in the heart of Kerala, exploring the role of the Hajj pilgrimage in the lives of the Mappila community and representation of the Hajj pilgrims in the literary narratives from the region. There is only limited mentioning of the Hajj in the history of Malabar, and the literature available on it is less attended so far. Autobiographies of the pilgrims from Malabar have attempted to construct the image of Haji using various literary tropes which assert the cultural self of the Mappila Muslims. Demonstrating the cultural self of the pilgrims, the Hajj narratives also map the sacred geography through illustration of images of ritual spaces such as Ka’aba, Arafa, Jamra and other sacred places in Mecca, the pilgrimage site. Filmic narratives on the Hajj have taken another method of depicting the image of Hajji. Analysing movies on the Hajj, the paper explores the realities behind the pauper pilgrims. “Pauper Pilgrim” (Radhika, 2009) was a term used to describe the destitute Indian pilgrim as depicted in the movies like Kandam Becha Kottu (1961) and Adaminte Makan Abu (2011). The term “Pauper Pilgrim” has different connotations when it is read with a critical eye on the religious texts on the Hajj which propose an ‘alternative Hajj’ for Miskeen or Faqir Muslims. Another point of discussion is how British colonial power controlled Malabar pilgrims by imposing the regulations on free movement of people to practice their obligatory pilgrimage as in Urumi (2011).

Muhamed Riyaz Chenganakkatill

Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India

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