It started as a simple project: to take photos of the dozens of temples that dotted the area. It is hard to miss them. Almost one per street. Almost all of them dedicated to Amman (mother goddess) and Ganesha and in various stages of growth. Even as you are pondering why so many, your eye catches something else. The almost equivalent proliferation of churches, little and big. The juxtaposition of Amman (Mother Goddess) temple and Velankanni shrine (Our Lady of Healing). When did this happen? Then you remember Raji, the maid servant in your mother’s house, a Hindu woman whose son had married a Christian, announcing she has become a Christian; the Sunday morning tent revivals, blaring mikes and the traffic jams. Then you realize that the trade liberalization that welcomed the McDonalds, the Gap and other mncs, has also let in the Mormons, the Seventh Day Adventists and other evangelists. Consumption followed by salvation. On the sacred geography of Kilpauk (as in other parts of Chennai), the temples and the churches are no longer just material evidence of Chennai’s religious pluralism but contested turfs for the hearts and souls of Chennai’s low caste poor. You begin to wonder: is free trade finally accomplishing what two hundred years of direct British control could not?
The photos and the text are the property of Indira Govindan. Please do not copy or reproduce any of the materials without my permission. Thanks for visiting.
Twithout my permission.
¨The photos and the text are the property of Indira Govindan. Please do not copy or reproduce any of the materials without my permission.¨It