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Uprising of the Fools : Pilgrimage As Moral Protest in Contemporary India (Paperback) (Vikash Singh)

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At first glance a pilgrimage that requires people to walk hundreds of miles, carrying containers of sacred water, looks like a display of religious fundamentalism. But when Vikash Singh walked with the pilgrims of the Kanwar procession in India, he found something entirely different: religion was not a reaction against modernity, but a practical strategy to prevail over the everyday violence of an exclusionary society.
The Kanwar has emerged as India's largest annual religious congregation, drawing millions of people each year. Participants gather sacred water from the Ganges in the holy city of Hardwar and then carry it across the country to dispense as offerings in Shiva shrines. Many of those involved are young, destitute men, who are entering an economy in which as many as 90 percent of workers have only informal employment. The Kanwar becomes an alternative social space for participants to prepare for this exclusionary economy, while proving their talents, resolve, and moral sincerity. Singh's analysis makes use of psychoanalytic theory, phenomenology, and Indian cultural texts to chart the intricate connections between religion, morality, economy, social status, and politics. Uprising of the Fools shows how religion today acts not as a retreat into tradition, but rather as an alternative forum for recognition and resistance within a rampant global neoliberalism.


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