Pilgrimages and Social Capital: Experiences in 'Bonding' or 'Bridging' - Part II
Second Parallel Session
|Mr. Gunalan B.Pharm.,|
Eastern University Sri Lanka
Dr Cynthia Jude talked about the feast of Lazarus at Pattinapakkam. Lazarus Church was established in 1582 and since been rebuilt many times, and is a rare Catholic double shrine, for it is now officially dedicated to Mary. There is a car procession during the Church's two festivals on which various saints are taken around the 'gaothan'. The cars are lent to them by the Kapaleeswarar Temple at Mylapore. And they have a Mother Arathi too, replete with camphor lamps and bells!
|Dr. Cinthia Jude, Stella Maris College, Chennai|
|The procession of Lazarus Festival|
Third Plenary Session
|Dr. William De Silva,|
Alva's School of Advanced Studies,
'Pilgrimages' according to him, begin in such practices as visits to Niyamgarh in Odisha or Uluru in Australia, places imbibed with a sense of origin and source of life, without ascription of Divinity. 'Enshrinement' of such places into codified religious practices is a later post-urbanisation development, such as Mount Kailash or the Temple Mount. And after the Moon missions and the rise of the Environmental Movement, the Earth itself (Sagan's 'Small Blue Dot') is, for some, a 'pilgrim focus' and a convergence of Mythopoesis/Mythophany.
Pilgrimage gets rooted in the transition from pastoralism to urbanisation, as a temporary relief from sedentariness to the vagabondage of an imagined past. It remains in a sort of conflict with organised religion which seeks to control the direction of faith. And so sancta are created that may be denied to non-believers, but the periphery may not be denied, so Mary is open to worship by all but Mass is only available to Catholics; Ekadashi pilgrimage to Pandharpur does not require the pilgrim to seek actual darshan. I found this interesting, though I have my reservations.
|Dr. Geetesh Nirban,|
No prizes for guessing. Channa masala again. But after lunch, I had some time 'bridging' with Dr. Jeremy Saul and we toured the departments. UoM's departments are really well-endowed when it comes to their libraries.
Third Parallel Session
|Dr. Vincent Shekhar,|
Loyola College, Chennai
|Fr. Ulagam Raja,|
Dept. of Christian Studies, UoM
[These notes are a lot more critical than the speakers themselves, several of them being being very reverent of their subject, and not objective enough.]
|Valedictory Function. From left to right: Dr. Chellaperumal, Dr. S. Pannerselvam, Dr. Priyadarshana Jain|
|Dr. S. Pannerselvam,|
Dept. of Philosophy, UoM
S. Panneerselvam (not O.), giving the Valedictory address (as the third-last speech) spoke about the models used to study pilgrimage as social capital. For some reason, I have no recollection of what he spoke about (I'm basically an honest person. I'm also prey to the cliche of basically.) I think the lunch acted on me and left me a bit drowsy.
|Students of Dept. of Jainology|
present their skit
|Dr. Priyadarshana Jain,|
Dept. of Jainology, UoM
The last lecture of the conference was given by Dr. Chellaperumal of Pondicherry University on the anthropology of pilgrimage. He says that studies of pilgrimage must go beyond examing and documenting the religious aspects, and involve social and anthropological methodology. Aspects of social identity that dissolve during a pilgrimage help create bridges beyond social classes, but do these bridges persist after the pilgrimage?
He also spoke of how interesting new pilgrimages are being created by tour operators, like Navagraha Yatra in Tamil Nadu; and new pilgrimages are being promoted through religious magazines and social media. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a specific marketing tactic, using a social not a religious/spiritual reason. On the other hand, many other sites emerge as pilgrimage centres in uncontrolled, autochthonous ways, and anthropologists have a chance of observing emergent myths and rituals live. In an answer to my question about there being a southern equivalent of the song 'Shirdi Wale Sai Baba' (Amar Akbar Anthony), he said that the movie Annai Velankanni played a role in suddenly boosting pilgrimage to the shrine, especially among non-Catholics.
At last we got to the certificate-giving ritual, which Dr. Chellaperumal went through with the patience of an experienced certificate hander-over.
|That expression is priceless.|
|Fr. Ulagara reads out|
the Vote of Thanks.
My 18:14 time stamp says that the conference is now well and truly over!