Clothing as Devotion in Contemporary Hinduism, Urmila Mohan explores the materiality and visuality of cloth and clothing as devotional media in contemporary Hinduism. Drawing upon ethnographic research into the global missionizing group “International Society for Krishna Consciousness” (ISKCON), she studies translocal spaces of worship, service, education, and daily life in the group’s headquarters in Mayapur and other parts of India. Focusing on the actions and values of deity dressmaking, devotee clothing and paraphernalia, Mohan shows how activities, such as embroidery and chanting, can be understood as techniques of spirituality, reverence, allegiance—and she proposes the new term “efficacious intimacy” to help understand these complex processes. The monograph brings theoretical advances in Anglo-European material culture and material religion studies into a conversation with South Asian anthropology, sociology, art history, and religion. Ultimately, it demonstrates how embodied interactions as well as representations shape ISKCON’s practitioners as devout subjects, while connecting them with the divine and the wider community.
Urmila Mohan, Ph.D. (2015, University College London), is an anthropologist of material culture. She authored
Fabricating Power with Balinese Textiles (2018), and co-edited “The Bodily and Material Cultures of Religious Subjectivation” (
Journal of Material Culture, 2017);
The Material Subject: Rethinking Subjects Through Objects and Praxis (2020).
Table of contents
Clothing as Devotion in Contemporary Hinduism Urmila Mohan Abstract
1 Introduction: Why Cloth and Clothing?
2 Deity Worship and Darshan
3 ISKCON as Translocal Hindu Group
4 Multi-sensorial Worship Experience
5 Clothing the Deities: Toward an ISKCON Style
6 Embroidery as Devotional Practice
7 Values in the Classroom and Beyond
8 Circulation of Images and Imagery
9 Dressing for the Deities
10 Chanting as Devotional Technique
11 Conclusion: Clothing as Efficacious Intimacy
All interested in the role of material/visual culture and religious practice in historic and contemporary Hinduism with a focus on cloth and clothing as embodied means of shaping devotional subjects.