By Corinne G. Dempsey
The Goddess Lives in Upstate big apple is a profile of a flourishing Hindu temple within the city of Rush, long island. The temple, confirmed by way of a charismatic nonbrahman Sri Lankan Tamil referred to as Aiya, stands proud for its blend of orthodox ritual meticulousness and socioreligious iconoclasm. The energy with which devotees perform ritual themselves and their prepared entry to the deities contrasts sharply with ritual actions at so much North American Hindu temples, the place (following the standard Indian customized) ritual is played purely by way of monks and entry to the hugely sanctified divine photographs is heavily guarded. Drawing on numerous years of fieldwork, Dempsey weaves conventional South Asian stories, temple miracle money owed, and devotional testimonials into an research of the particular dynamics of diaspora Hinduism. She explores the ways that the goddess, the guru, and temple individuals stay at cultural and non secular intersections, noting how differences among amazing and mundane, conference and non-convention, and family and overseas are extra frequently intertwined and interdependent than in tidy competition. This vigorous and available paintings is a different and critical contribution to diaspora Hindu reports.
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Additional info for The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York: Breaking Convention and Making Home at a North American Hindu Temple
Late December during my ﬁrst year at the temple, Aiya was leading a weekend pu¯ja¯ workshop for devotees. He suggested I come along, bring my tape recorder, and learn some of the technicalities of pu¯ja¯ worship. About twelve of us, devotees of all ages from across the United States, enjoyed a day of explanation, demonstration, and frequent tangents into Aiya’s trademark stories. As the workshop wound down, the group sat on the ﬂoor, talking and sucking on gigantic cinnamon ﬁreballs distributed from a plastic jar.
True, they would be ﬁne with my husband, but I would be miserable. The project would have to wait and the grant forfeited. In search of another research direction to compensate for the lost trip, I spoke the following evening with Paul, temple entryways 17 one of my colleagues, when he visited our home in Syracuse en route to a conference. Paul recalled hearing a Sri Lankan friend he highly respected speak enthusiastically about an innovative temple that just moved to a town outside Rochester. He encouraged me to visit the temple and ﬁnd out more for myself.
In a way, I had added to my thinking another type of human accountability to the one proposed by process theology—that humanity manifests divinity by doing good deeds. 13 I was interested to ﬁnd that this tradition of scholarly detachment is not unknown to temple members. On several occasions, people who discussed with me my approach to writing this book have worried whether my somewhat insider perspective might jeopardize my chances for tenure and promotion in my job. When Aiya came to Wisconsin in the spring of 2002 to guest lecture for one of my classes, he “slipped” and referred to the fact that I had performed pu¯ja¯ at his temple.
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