The Festival of Pirs: Popular Islam and Shared Devotion in South India

Paperback | November 15, 2013

byAfsar Mohammad

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The Festival of Pirs is an ethnographic study of the religious life of the village of Gugudu in Andhra Pradesh. It focuses on the public event of Muharram, which is practiced by urban Shi'i communities across South Asia, but takes on a strikingly different color in Gugudu because of thecentral place of a local pir, or saint, called Kullayappa. The story of Kullayappa is pivotal in Gugudu's religious culture, effectively displacing the better-known story of Imam Hussain from Shi'a Islam, and each year 300,000 pilgrims from across South India visit this remote village to expresstheir devotion to Kullayappa. As with many villages in South India, Gugudu is mostly populated by non-Muslims, yet Muslim rituals and practices play a crucial role in its devotion. In the words of one devotee, "There is no Hindu or Muslim. They all have one religion, which is called 'Kullayappa devotion (bhakti).'" AfsarMohammad explores how the diverse religious life in the village of Gugudu expands our notions of devotion to the martyrs of Karbala, not only in this particular village but also in the wider world.

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The Festival of Pirs is an ethnographic study of the religious life of the village of Gugudu in Andhra Pradesh. It focuses on the public event of Muharram, which is practiced by urban Shi'i communities across South Asia, but takes on a strikingly different color in Gugudu because of thecentral place of a local pir, or saint, called Kul...

Afsar Mohammad is Lecturer in Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:November 15, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199997594

ISBN - 13:9780199997596

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Gugudu: The Emergence of a Shared Devotional Space2. The Pir with a Cap: Narrating Kullayappa3. Kullayappa and the Public Rituals of Muharram4. Faqiri: Practicing Temporary Asceticism5. Debating Rituals: The Politics of ''True'' IslamConclusionNotes