Site menu:


The conference will host over 40 scholars of various disciplines from North America, Europe, South Asia, and Australasia:


Artist: Vasuki
Artist: Kiko
Artist: Vasan

Abraham, S.
Ambalavanar, D.
Arasu, V.
Champakalakshmi, R.
Cheran, R.
Fukao, J.
George, G.
George, U.
Ghose, R.
Guruge, S.
Jegathesan, M.
Kanaganayakam, C.
Kanthasamy, P.
Karunakaran, K.
Karunanithi, G.
Kingsolver, A.
Mason, R.
Maunaguru, S.
Maunaguru, Sitralega
McNaughton, S.
More, J.B.P.
Orr, L.
Pai, G.
Palaniappan, S.
Pandian, M.S.S.
Rajesh, V.
Renganathan, V.
Sangarasivam, Y.
Seylon, R.
Shanmugam, K.
Sivalingam, H.
Sriramachandran, R.
Sundar, A.
Tambiah, S.J.
Tyyskä, V.
Vaitheespara, R.
Vivekananthan, P.
Whitaker, M.
Xavier, S.
Young, K.
Younger, P.

Paul Younger

Professor Emeritus
Department of Religious Studies
McMaster University

Tamil Hinduism in Indenture-based Societies
Saturday, June 2nd | 3:00 - 5:00 PM

Between 1838 and 1915 indentured workers were taken from Madras and Calcutta to Guyana, Trinidad, South Africa, Mauritius and Fiji. In each location the Tamils formed distinctive worship traditions that still thrive in the post-colonial situations. In each situation a new worship tradition was formed and people are now fiercely proud of that tradition and carefully teach it to their children. In each case the Tamils maintained their own sense of community even as they interacted with the North Indians, the colonial British and the other colonized persons as they built a new society together. In the circumstance, the social structure of the new worship traditions are inventive adaptations of the local social patterns, but the traditions lay out a set of symbols from the "homeland" as the basis of their religious authority.

Guyana and Trinidad provide the most extreme version of the "new homeland" pattern in that the Kali-Mai cult found there reflects the close interaction the cult had with the Protestant-style sectarianism of the Afro-Guyanese churches. The carefully defined ritual form in which Mariyamman and the clusters of subsidiary deities are now worshipped is a local invention, but it invokes a distant and mythic spiritual power that serves as a counterweight to the openness of the shared post-colonial society. Tamils in Mauritius, South Africa and Fiji were not cut off from their roots to the extent those in Guyana and Trinidad were, and the rigidity of the Guyana/Trinidad solution is not as evident in those settings.

Dr. Younger studied in Banaras Hindu University and Princeton University and has taught at McMaster University since 1964. His main research has been in South India, Sri Lanka and more recently a variety of "diaspora" settings. His most recent books are The Home of Dancing Sivan: The Traditions of the Hindu Temple in Citamparan (1995) and Playing Host to Deity: Festival Religion in the South Indian Tradition (2001).