The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York: Breaking Convention and Making Home at a North American…

Paperback | February 1, 2006

byCorinne G. Dempsey

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The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York is a profile of a flourishing Hindu temple in the town of Rush, New York. The temple, established by a charismatic nonbrahman Sri Lankan Tamil known as Aiya, stands out for its combination of orthodox ritual meticulousness and socioreligious iconoclasm.The vitality with which devotees participate in ritual themselves and their ready access to the deities contrasts sharply with ritual activities at most North American Hindu temples, where (following the usual Indian custom) ritual is performed only by priests and access to the highly sanctifieddivine images is closely guarded. Drawing on several years of fieldwork, Dempsey weaves traditional South Asian tales, temple miracle accounts, and devotional testimonials into an analysis of the distinctive dynamics of diaspora Hinduism. She explores the ways in which the goddess, the guru, andtemple members reside at cultural and religious intersections, noting how distinctions between miraculous and mundane, convention and non-convention, and domestic and foreign are more often intertwined and interdependent than in tidy opposition. This lively and accessible work is a unique andimportant contribution to diaspora Hindu Studies.

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The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York is a profile of a flourishing Hindu temple in the town of Rush, New York. The temple, established by a charismatic nonbrahman Sri Lankan Tamil known as Aiya, stands out for its combination of orthodox ritual meticulousness and socioreligious iconoclasm.The vitality with which devotees participate i...

Corinne G. Dempsey is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. Her first book, Kerala Christian Sainthood: Collisions of Culture and Worldview in South India (OUP, 2001), won the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies award for best monograph in Hindu-Christian studies, 2000-2002.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 6.1 × 9.21 × 0.59 inPublished:February 1, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019518730X

ISBN - 13:9780195187304

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"Dempsey's study of an unconventional, but successful, Hindu temple community in upstate New York reveals important dynamics of diaspora Hinduism. These include issues of gender and caste, ethnic community, and spiritual enthusiasm -- the last of which, especially, has been little treated incurrent studies of the South Asian diaspora. Just as important, by demonstrating vividly both the logic of tantric ritual and the power devotees see in it, Dempsey offers important insights into Hindu tradition generally. Her engaging writing, together with the perceptive questions she raises,should make her book one that will absorb students and scholars alike."--Daniel Gold, author of Aesthetics and Analysis in Writing on Religion: Modern Fascinations