Embodying Charisma: Modernity, Locality and the Performance by Pnina Werbner, Helene Basu

By Pnina Werbner, Helene Basu

The ongoing power of Sufism as a residing embodied postcolonial fact demanding situations the argument that Sufism has "died" in recent years. all through India and Bangladesh, Sufi shrines exist in either the agricultural and concrete components, from the remotest desolate tract to the trendy Asian urban, mendacity contrary banks and skyscrapers. This publication illuminates the outstanding resilience of South Asian Sufi saints and their cults within the face of radical fiscal and political dislocations and breaks new flooring in present examine. It addresses the newest debates at the stumble upon among Islam and modernity and offers vital new comparative ethnographic fabric.

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Extra resources for Embodying Charisma: Modernity, Locality and the Performance of Emotion in Sufi Cults

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People who are hostile to the pir assert that he is trapped in Atroshi by various jinns which he controls within the darbar area but which would destroy him if he left. The place is famous as a pilgrimage centre for hundreds of thousands (claimed as millions) of devotees. The pir was also visited regularly by President Ershad during his time in office. As a result of the patronage of the president’s followers, there was a big increase in visitors and income to the darbar, and the pir became famous throughout Bangladesh.

The deliberate visualisation which disciples inculcate and the visions which they are given in return are facilitated by the pir’s iconic behaviour and the accompanying contrast between the simplicity of his appearance and the unseen forces which are supposedly swirling invisibly around and within him. Whether in dreams, day-visions, conversations or miraculous appearances, devotees effectively take away and activate the iconic image of a pir, a man whose imagined mastery over his base nature supplies an inviting space in which their own needs and desires can find response, and where their minds can find repose.

Beyond it is a small brick room where food is cooked and some khadem sleep on rush mats. The pir is represented by the tomb edifice which exists within its own enclosure, accessible only to male visitors. The devotee enters this enclosure individually and prostrates himself before the tomb. By contrast, the wider enclosure of the darbar is an area of public ritual and celebration where music is made, food is consumed, and the congregational side of the pir’s spiritual identity is manifested. At the time of ‘urus the dargah overflows onto the surrounding streets, and a kind of imagined universality is celebrated, even though there are many in the locality who disapprove of such revelry.

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