Chohan, Sandeep Singh (University of Wolverhampton, 2008)
Based upon two years fieldwork in Wolverhampton and Coventry, and several field trips to Punjab, this thesis focuses on the prevalence of possession and exorcism as a manifestation of Punjabi religion amongst the Punjabi diaspora in Wolverhampton. Euro-centric scholarship and reform movements in the 1900s, in India, suppressed religious traditions that did not conform to the textual and institutionalised forms of religion. This thesis proposes that the phenomenon of possession and exorcism observed amongst the Punjabi diaspora in Wolverhampton is in no way novel, rather it is a diasporic reconstruction of a vital tradition found within the religious traditions from the Punjab, and on a larger scale in the Indian sub-continent. Furthermore the Punjabi diaspora in Wolverhampton are in no way unique in the re-construction of this religious tradition in Britain. Various forms of supernatural malaise are prevalent amongst the Punjabi diaspora in Wolverhampton that are utilised by the community to explain the inexplicable diversities they face in daily life. These supernatural afflictions provide the Punjabi diaspora with a useful method of accepting adversity but also various methods to tackle it through the assistance of a baba or bhagat. This thesis explores the underlying cosmological discourses prevalent in the worldview of north Indian religious traditions in an attempt to analyse a relatively untouched phenomenon of religious beliefs and practices of the Punjabi diaspora in Wolverhampton.
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