Clothing as Devotion in Contemporary Hinduism

In: Clothing as Devotion in Contemporary Hinduism
Author: Urmila Mohan1
  • 1 University College London, U.K.

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Abstract

In 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.

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