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MC2.1 Sufi Shrines

Sufi Shrines as Transcultural Communicative Interfaces in Western India

Coordination: Hans Harder


Sufi saints and shrines in Maharashtra have historically mediated between Hindus and Muslims through narratives of miracles and rituals that are considered healing, to create a collective consciousness about shrines that is at once powerful and ambivalent. Hagiographies of Sufi saints constitute an elaborate layer of regional Muslim history and religion in rural Maharashtra that links transcultural genealogy with local community. At the same time hagiography and emerging uniformity in Sufi shrine ritual and pilgrimage also demarcates Muslim religiosity as Muslim cultural belonging in Maharashtra’s public sphere. Sufi shrines have hitherto been viewed only in a limited manner. They have either been viewed as expressing syncretism or been subject to opinions on Islamic reformism. This research explores and analyses discourses and negotiations surrounding Sufi shrines through devotional grey literature and media collected from shrines located along Maharashtra’s coastal regions. The various discursive and communicative interphases explored by this project reveals layered contestations between identity-claims of Sufi purity that are produced at interstices of Sultanate alliances, ‘Arabian Peninsula’ or Indian Ocean Networking alliances that negotiate with Hindutva politics and Marathi linguistic ethnicity and nativity. These narratives have produced Sufi shrines in Maharashtra at the juncture of a transcultural communitive interface within the public sphere that my project has analysed using discourse analysis.



Hans Harder

Group members

Deepra Dandekar