[INDOLOGY] Takeover of temples by government in North India

Vera Lazzaretti vera.lazzaretti at gmail.com
Wed Nov 23 17:22:48 UTC 2016

Dear colleagues,

I would be interested to hear about any work or scholar that addresses the topic of temple takeover by regional/national government, and its consequences for workers, devotees, and rituals in North Indian temple realities. 

While I know some studies focused on temples’ complex in South India which explore the transitions of their management from one run by ritual specialists, private families or monastic orders to government institutions, public trusts or the Archaeological Survey of India, it seems that similar issues have not been explored much in North Indian temple realities. The government management of temples in many regions of South India seems to be nowadays a sort of establishment, which has of course many critiques, some of which materialise in numerous court cases. However, to my knowledge the transition to government and presumably ‘secular’ managements seems to be an established pattern for many successful North Indian temple realities, for many reasons, yet to be fully understood. I’m working around one of these cases - the Kāśī Viśvanāth in Varanasi. 

The topic is widely treated in Indian media and voices against the government takeover have often been raised by the Hindu ‘right’ claiming the dispossession of Hindus’ religious properties; however, a critical study of these sorts of transitions and their repercussions for religious and political spheres would contribute to a better understanding of contemporary Hinduism.

With best wishes and many thanks,

Vera Lazzaretti
Post-doctoral Fellow
University of Milan

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