Category Archives: P. Hinduism Beyond India

Newari Hinduism

The Newar people are the traditional inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. The term Newar is an etymologically identical to Nepal (Gellner 1995:4). They are a product of ethnic and cultural mixing between North Indian ancestry and Tibeto-Burman language (Mackenzie n.p.). The Newars are divided by religion, caste, locality, and dialect, making the Newar peoples a complex group of people. Most Newars are Hindu, however the culture is a mingling between Hinduism and Buddhism. According to the 2001 census, Nepal was 81.8% Hindu, 11% Buddhist, and the remainder is a combination of Kirat, Christian, Jains, and Sikhs (Central Bureau of Statistics 29). From this data it is important to understand the influence the Hindu tradition has on Nepal. The relationship between Buddhism and Hinduism is both simultaneously competitive and ecumenical (Gellner 1995:3).

The history of the Newar people begins in the fifth century, when the “people of Nepal”, naipalah, populated the area (Gellner 1995:3). However, the term Newar only came into existence in mid-seventeenth century, where the term was used to refer to the politically dominant members of society or ksatriya groups (Gellner 1995:3). The Licchavi period saw the first appearance of monarchial state and associations with high Indian culture in the Kathmandu Valley (Gellner 1995:6). The area was settled due to the uniquely fertile soil in the Kathmandu Valley, which was at one point the bed of a lake, and benefits also included a temperate climate, and control over trade routes between the plains and Tibet (Gellner 1995:6). In the valley both Hinduism and Buddhism were supported by the ruling class, made up of ksatryas, patrons of brahmans (Gellner 1995:7).

The Licchavi period preceded the Thankuri and Malla Period; it is the Malla period that accounts for traditional Newar culture (Gellner 1995:7).  The Malla period is marked by a division into three kingdoms: Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur (Gellner 1995:9). The kings of each region did not see themselves as Newari, but rather as descendants of Rama and the sun, establishing their connection to Hinduism (Gellner 1995:9). Furthermore, in each of the three kingdoms the rulers sought to make their subjects adhere to Hindu norms, both in relation to ritual pollution and death rituals (Gellner 1995:9).

Most Newar castes hold their own myths regarding their origins. An example of this is where higher castes, such as ksatriyas, hold the belief that the later the arrival in the Valley the higher the status. These castes claim to have been kings in earlier dynasty, or courtiers to incoming kings (Gellner 1995:5).  Other castes, such as the Rajkarnikars (or Sweet-Makers) claim to have descended from brahmans in India (Gellner 1995:5). The Kathmandu Valley plays host to a diversity of racial origins, and different physiognomies both within and between castes.

Newari is a Tibeto-Burman language, belonging to socio-linguistic family from Northern India, which is known for its borrowing between other Indo-European languages (Gellner 1995:5). The tradition of borrowing continues today, despite nationalistic efforts. This can be seen in that most Newari men and the emerging generations are bilingual in both Nepali and Newari (Gellner 1995:5).  Language is important to the study of Hindu Newars through its connection to Sanskrit. Much like India, Sanskrit is the language of scripture for both Hinduism and Buddhism (Gellner 1995:5). Sanskrit, various Prakrits, Persian, Hindi, Nepali and English have profoundly influenced Newari, this is a reflection of linguistic borrowing (Gellner 1991:2).

The construction of the caste system shapes both the macrostructure of society and the micro-reality of everyday life. The Newar people are involved in two caste systems: they have their own system that both separates and unites them internally, and the long-standing caste system of Nepal (Parish 4).  The state caste system is used to unite tribes, castes, different religions, and social organizations to create political and administrative convenience. One of the results is the reconstitution of Buddhist and Hindu identities in relation to one another (Parish 4). The Newar specific caste system hails from historic times of Newar kings, beginning in the Licchavi, but fully forming in the Malla period (Gellner 1995:9).

The Newar caste system is most easily described through the six blocks, or levels in hierarchy. Newar people speak of high and low castes, and the rank of each as described in the Bhasa Vamasavali (Gellner 1995:16). Block one is comprised of Brahmans, and the vajracarya and sakya castes combined, all priestly classes. The second block contains the chathariya and pancthariya castes. Blocks one and two are made up of those castes that are entitled to Tantric initiation using the sacred thread. Block 3 is comprised by the maharjans (farmer class). Block four is made up of several small castes including oil-pressers, dyers, blacksmiths, barbers, and painters. Block five includes the khadgi (butcher) and kapali (mortician) classes. Individuals from blocks one to four (“clean castes”) will not accept water from people in this caste, however their touch does not require ritual purification. The last block is made up of dyahla (street cleaner) and cyamkhalah (scavenger) groups. Other castes refuse to accept water from individuals in these castes and touching them requires purification.  [All information on the block organization of the caste system from Gellner 1995, page 17.]

Interaction between castes occurs, however, as seen in the block system some interaction can result in ritual pollution. The caste system is an essential element to the maintenance of social structures in Newar society. Food exchange is an important aspect in determining ritual pollution. Food is divided into three categories that dictate which directions food can be taken and given (Ishii 111). Interrelations between castes are also governed by the physical structure of the village or town; this insures minimal interaction between the castes (Ishii 112). Inter-caste marriages also take place in Newar society, usually where the bride marries a caste lower than hers.

One of the main ways in which Newar culture relates to Hinduism is through its treatment of death. When an individual dies they become a preta and resides in relatives’ households before going to the kingdom of Yama. Essential death rites are performed to help the potentially dangerous spirit move on to pitr-loka (realm of ancestors). Newar Hindus of all castes are fascinated with death and are fixated with the dramatic consequences that can result from improperly performed funeral rites (Toffin 259).

Newar Hindu women in the Kathmandu Valley hold a high level of agency in Newari culture. This can be seen in particular through the relatively easy divorce practices for these women. For Newar women, leaving their family is as simple as walking away; her family can finalize the separation by sending betel nuts and reclaiming her dowry (Gellner 1991:14). Betel nuts can also be used as a way of avoiding ritual pollution in the case that her husband dies, this also allows her to remarry.  The agency granted to women in the Newar population is connected to its history of collaboration with Tibetan people (Gellner 1991:8).  Newar girls also partake in rites of passage, like their male counterparts. A mock marriage, ihi, can be done when a girl passes the age of five, seven, or nine; it is debated as to whom she is being married to, answers range from Visnu, to the bel fruit (Gellner 1991:9). The intent of the ceremony is to signify that the girl will never be a widow, even if her human husband dies; this therefore protects the girl from the stigma associated with being a widow (Gellner 1991:9).

For Newar Hindus marriage is affected by the caste system in which their society operates. For the upper castes, they must invite a Brahmana or Vajracarya to perform the ceremony, lower castes will invite a lineage elder (Gellner 1991:10). For each caste, there is a dichotomy between elaborate weddings with exchanges, feasts, and a marriage procession, and weddings where the bride simply comes to live with her husband without ceremony (Gellner 1991:9).  In both instances, an exchange occurs where betel nuts are passed between families to symbolize the bride leaving her family and being introduced to her husband’s.



Central Bureau of Statistics (2001). Nepal – National Population Census 2001, Tenth Census. Nepal: Central Bureau of Statistics.

Gellner, David N. (1991) “Hinduism, Tribalism and the Position of Women: The Problem of Newar Identity” Man 26 (1). 105–25. Accessed February 4, 2016.

Gellner, David N., and Declan Quigley, et al. (1995) Contested hierarchies: A collaborative ethnography of caste among the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Gellner, David N., and Max Weber (2001) The Anthropology of Buddhism and Hinduism: Weberian Themes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Levy, Robert I. (1991) “Nepal, the Kathmandu Valley, and Some History” In Mesocosm: Hinduism and the Organization of a Traditional Newar City in Nepal. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Mackenzie, John (2005) “Newars.” Cassell’s peoples, nations and cultures. London, United Kingdom: Cassell.

Parish, Steven M. (1996) Hierarchy and its Discontents: Culture and the Politics of Consciousness in Caste Society. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Von Rospatt, Alexander (2014) “Negotiating the Passage beyond a Full Span of Life: Old Age Rituals among the Newars” Journal of South Asian Studies. 37 #1 (March): 104-129

Whelpton, John (2005) A History of Nepal. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.


Related Research Topics for Further Investigation

Newar Buddhism

Newar caste system

Role of women in Hinduism

Death rituals

Rites of passage

Hindu marriage rituals






Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic


Article written by: Nicole Sommerfeld (February 2016) who is solely responsible for its content.

Hinduism in Sri Lanka

The origins of Hinduism in Sri Lanka have not been conclusively determined. However, it is known that the development of a multiethnic modern day Sri Lanka, primarily influenced by Buddhist and Hindu religious worldviews, has unfortunately resulted in devastating ethnic and religious conflict. Currently, it is believed that the expansion of Hindu Tamils in Sri Lanka occurred relatively close to the evolution of the major ethnic group identified as the Sinhalese (Holt 70).  The Sinhalese are thought to have originated from the assimilation of various tribal or aboriginal ethnic communities that occupied Sri Lanka during the early Iron Age, approximately 600 to 500 BCE (Holt 70). However, some scholarly sources state that the Sinhalese may in fact have migrated to and colonized Sri Lanka around 500 BCE (Nubin 95). Despite these variances, it is accepted that the Sinhalese developed sophisticated civilizations with innovative technological advancements such as water tanks, reservoirs and irrigation canals (Nubin 95). Most importantly, the Sinhalese would help establish, spread and safeguard the traditions of Buddhism that would eventually be protected by the governing states of Sri Lanka (Nubin 95).

In regards to the spread of Hinduism from south India to Sri Lanka, the earliest inscriptions and texts from the Pali chronicles (the Mahavamsa) state that the primarily Hindu Tamils occupied Sri Lanka from the early Iron Age onward, directly parallel to the evolution of the Sinhalese (Holt 71). It is important to understand that there is a distinction between Sri Lankan Tamils, considered a native minority, and Indian Tamils, who later immigrated to Sri Lanka or are the descendants of these immigrants (Nubin 146). With their migration, the Indian Tamils brought with them their own Tamil language and spread their Dravidian cultural influences amongst the people of Sri Lanka. Additionally, since Tamil Nadu, India and northern Sri Lanka are closely connected in terms of geography, this physical link has supported the continual spread of Tamils in Sri Lanka (Holt 71). These Tamil immigrants comprised various castes and positions of power in the Hindu societies of south India, and “brought with them a kaleidoscope of religious myths and rites reflective of Hindu worldviews” (Deegalle 39). Archaeological evidence supports this migration model for the spread of Tamil language and culture in Sri Lanka (Holt 71). Eventually, some Tamil traders became elite and their significant influence in northern Sri Lanka allowed Tamil language and Hindu culture to become dominant (Holt 71). However, the Hindu Tamil influence was not as strong in the central and southern regions of Sri Lanka, where most Tamils were assimilated into the majority, Sinhalese Buddhist tradition (Holt 71). Additionally, as the Sinhalese slowly gained control of Sri Lanka, they started to view both Tamil language and culture as invasive and foreign to their native Buddhist traditions (Nubin 146). This tension between the Buddhist Sinhalese majority and Hindu Tamil minority has resulted in severe conflict throughout the history of Sri Lanka, even up to the past few decades (Mainuddin and Aicher 26).

The peak of these clashes between the Sinhalese and Tamils occurred between the 5th and 9th centuries CE, when the Cola (pronounced Chola) dynasty, a Hindu empire of south India, increasingly pushed towards the Sinhalese-Buddhist kingdoms of Sri Lanka (Nubin 101). Under the rule of Rajaraja the Great (983 – 1014 CE), the Cola Empire, which had already established hegemony over south India, proceeded aggressively to conquer Sri Lanka (De Silva 25). The Cola Empire gained near complete control of the Buddhist Sinhalese kingdom by removing the Sinhalese king at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka and subsequently, Rajaraja’s son Rajendra completed the conquest of the island (De Silva 26). A significant and relatively permanent change created by the Cola Empire, which outlasted its period of rule, was the shifting of the capital from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruva (De Silva 26). The Cola Empire’s primary motive behind shifting the capital farther south was to protect their empire from potential invasion from southern Sinhalese kingdoms (Nubin 102). However, the southern Sinhalese kingdoms would eventually overthrow the Cola Empire, but the crucial shift of the political and religious capital allowed certain aspects of Hinduism established during the Cola rule to be maintained in Sri Lanka (Holt 87).

Importantly, the Cola conquest resulted in significant changes in the religious and cultural dynamics of Sri Lanka (De Silva 73). The rule of the south Indian Tamils of the Cola Empire allowed Hinduism to prosper in Sri Lanka, while Buddhism receded (Nubin 102). A crucial consequence of the Cola conquest was that it allowed Hindu-Brahmanical traditions and religious practices of Saivism to become dominant in Sri Lanka (De Silva 73). Furthermore, various characteristics of Dravidian (south Indian) culture including notions of art, architecture and the Tamil language, collectively had a substantial impact on the religious and cultural structures of Sri Lanka (De Silva 73). Under the Cola Empire, many Siva temples were built in major centers of worship in the Anuradhapura kingdom. These temples in Polonnaruva, Kantalai, Tirukkovil and other cities further assisted in enhancing Hindu Saivite traditions in Sri Lanka (Carter 164). Interestingly, despite the large amount of evidence about Saiva religious practices in Sri Lanka that arises after the Cola conquest, earlier inscriptions from the Mahavamsa indicate that the origins of Saivism in Sri Lanka may date back to the pre-Buddhist period (Carter 162). During this time period of around 400 BCE, the majority of Sri Lankans likely followed religious practices that closely adhered to Hindu Brahmanic and Saivite traditions (Carter 162). Archaeological studies of these religious practices in early Sri Lanka suggest significant phallic (Sivalinga) worship and worship of Saivite deities that closely resemble the principal religious practices of Hindu Tamils at the time (Carter 163).

Once the Sinhalese kingdom regained power approximately a century after the invasion by the Tamil Cola Empire, under King Parakramabahu I, the city of Polonnaruva was transformed into a dynamic center of cultural evolution (Holt 87). Although certain cultural aspects concerning literacy, art and fashion seemed to resemble or evolve from Anuradhapura roots, the city of Polonnaruva allowed for an extensive Hindu community to flourish (Holt 87). Sculptural and archaeological pieces indicate that a significant Hindu Saivite presence was maintained in Polonnaruva (Holt 11). This Hindu community followed Brahmanical traditions that were supported by the matrimonial alliances between Parakramabahu’s royal court and Hindu political elite in south India (Holt 87). Smaller, localized communities of Hindus also continued to thrive and their origins are likely based on Hindu mercenaries that served military interests of south India (Holt 87). Modern day archaeological evidence of religious figures that were worshipped during these times in Sri Lanka indicate a high degree of connection to the practices of Hindu Tamils in south India. Many sculptures depict the Hindu deities Siva, his wife Parvati, and their elephant headed son Ganesa (Holt 87). Importantly, these Hindu deities as well as Skanda (or Murugan) were widely worshipped by the Cola Tamils. These statues also strikingly resemble deities worshipped in south India and are likely derived from the Thanjavur styles of Tamil Nadu (Holt 87).

Modern day, pluralistic Sri Lanka is shaped by four main religions, and primarily two major ethnic groups (Carter 149). Currently, approximately 70% of Sri Lankans are Buddhist, 15% are Hindu, 8% are Christian, and 7% are Muslim (Nubin 9). Importantly, we find that many characteristics of Hinduism in India are different from the Hinduism established in Sri Lanka. Among the Hindus of Sri Lanka, Saivism is predominantly practiced, whereas other Hindu sects are essentially absent (Carter 175). One reason for such a lack of diversity in the Hindu communities of Sri Lanka is due to the migration of largely Saivite Tamil Hindus from south India. Furthermore, the historical and geographical events that collectively established Saivism in Sri Lanka have also produced differences from Saivism practiced in Tamil Nadu, India (Carter 175). Specifically, Vaisnavism and Saivism are thought to be contrasting systems in India, whereas in Sri Lanka, Visnu and Siva worship is complementary (Carter 175). Additionally, there are some temples in Sri Lanka devoted to the worship of Visnu even though there is not a significant number of Vaisnavites in Sri Lanka (Carter 175). Despite some of these differences, the established religious practices and traditions of Hindus in Sri Lanka have remained relatively unchanged until recent times. Many components of Hinduism in Sri Lanka including religious, cultural and linguistic factors can also be traced back to Hindu religious and political practices of south India. For example, Brahmin priests, who conduct rituals and ceremonies in social settings and in Hindu temples, do not involve themselves in the politics of public affairs (Carter 149). It is believed that this indifference towards public affairs by Brahmins can be traced back to the construction of Hindu society in India (Carter 149). Conversely, the Buddhist Sangha in Sri Lanka has held a key voice in political issues and has received major support from the state (Carter 149).

Nearly all Sri Lankan Hindus are Saivites and adhere to the Saiva Siddhanta School that was developed during medieval times in Tamil Nadu, India (Carter 150). Specifically, Saiva Siddhanta reveres the Vedas and the texts known as Agamas, whereas in south Indian Saivism, the collection of hymns referred to as Thirumurai and other texts including philosophical treatises comprise the canonical literature (Carter 150). This literature has also influenced Saivism in Sri Lanka, which in the broader sense can be thought of as “a blend of the Vedagama tradition with that of the Saiva Siddhanta” (Carter 150). Hindus in Sri Lanka have also maintained many of the cultural and linguistic characteristics of their Tamil Hindu counterparts in south India. For example, alongside the worship of similar deities, Hindus in Sri Lanka have also constructed temples, sculptures and other architectural monuments by employing south Indian artisans and architects (Carter 150). Additionally, many components of south Indian culture, such as the classical art of Bharata Natyam, have been established and sustained in Hindu communities in Sri Lanka (Carter 150). Sri Lankan Hindus also make pilgrimages to Cidambaram, Madurai, Ramesvaram, as well as other major Saivite centres in south India (Carter 175). Furthermore, many major religious festivals, such as the Kataragama festival celebrating the highly venerated deity Kataragama (or Skanda), occur in Hindu temples built at holy pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka (see Welbon and Yocum 299-304).

Although, possibly countless gods constitute the Hindu pantheon, for Tamil Hindus in both India and Sri Lanka, the gods Visnu and Siva are highly revered (Nubin 162). Visnu is referred to as the all-pervading god or “Blessed Lord,” who is the defender and creator of Dharma (Rodrigues 509). Visnu is usually depicted as a king with his wife, Laksmi, the goddess of wealth and fortune (Nubin 162). One of Visnu’s ten incarnations is Rama, who is the central character in the epic Ramayana. The other most popular incarnation of Visnu is the god Krsna, who is a cowherd and a warrior prince. Krsna appears in the highly important Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita, where he primarily conveys fundamental teachings regarding devotion and following one’s duties (Nubin 162).  Siva is considered to be the most important Hindu deity for Sri Lankan Hindus (Nubin 162). Siva is referred to as the lord of the yogis or sometimes as Pasupati, “Lord of Animals” (Rodrigues 37). Siva is married to Parvati, the daughter of the mountains, and Siva is often depicted as an ascetic being, covered in ashes, meditating in the jungle with animals surrounding his presence (Nubin 162). For Tamil Hindus, the most powerful and creative expression of Siva is as Nataraja, “Lord of the Dance” (Nubin 163). Large collections of literature and poems dedicated to Siva are held by some Tamil Hindus to be as sacred as the Vedic scriptures (Nubin 163). Although the primary focus for Sri Lankan Hindus is on the worship of Visnu and Siva, the Mahavamsa-Culavamsa (non-canonical narrative on the religious history of Sri Lankan royalty) also references the Hindu deities Brahma, Laksmi, Indra, Kuvera, Skanda, Visvakarman, Brhaspati, and Sarasvati (Deegalle 41). However, since much of the content of the Mahavamsa-Culavamsa is of Buddhist legend, myth, or folktale, searching these texts for connections to Hinduism in Sri Lanka can feel like trying to find information on Taoism by reading Confucian histories (Deegalle 41). Notably, female deities are also important amongst Hindu Tamils of south India and Sri Lanka, and they often receive more devotion by worshippers (Nubin 163). These goddesses are the Sakti, or cosmic energy, that has the ability to be both a creative and destructive force (Nubin 163).  Additionally, many small Hindu villages in Sri Lanka may also have their own local stories or origins based upon the presence of a specific deity. Therefore, they may have built specific temples for worshipping these deities, which usually include Ganesa, Muruga, Vairavar, and Kali (Carter 183).

In the more recent colonial history of Sri Lanka, Hindu religious practices have become less extensive due to the persecution of these religious worldviews by European colonizers, and also due to an increasing Buddhist influence (Carter 165). Specifically, the Portuguese colonizers persecuted Saivites, who in turn responded by fleeing to India. The Saivites that remained in Sri Lanka found themselves struggling to assert their Saiva religious practices, as they were unable to participate in fundamental religious observances such as temple worship (Carter 165). The Dutch imposed similar restrictions, but eventually British rule near the end of the nineteenth century allowed for greater religious freedom for Saivites in Sri Lanka (Carter 165). Nowadays, Sri Lanka faces problems of segregation based on caste (“caste-ism”) and untouchability that continue to be prevalent because of the absence of social reforms in Sri Lanka that are, however, taking place in India to fight the hierarchical division of groups into classes (Carter 155). On the political forefront, the proportional representation that Hindu Tamils enjoyed in the Sri Lankan government was eliminated with the 1949 Indian and Pakistani Residents Act (Mainuddin and Aicher 35). Additionally, the 1978 Constitution enshrined Buddhism with the state, further increasing the political tension between the Hindu Tamils and Buddhist Sinhalese (Mainuddin and Aicher 37). In the next few years, radical Tamils formed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and led an armed combat against the Sri Lankan government during the Sri Lankan Civil War to protect their Tamil statehood (Mainuddin and Aicher 37). Furthermore, the continued warfare by the Hindu Tamil militants against the Sri Lankan government in the 1990s indicates that the separatist self-determination issue is not yet resolved. These constant struggles illustrate the extent to which the heterogeneous society of modern day Sri Lanka continues to sporadically encounter clashes between the revivalist Sinhalese, Buddhist majority, and the separatist Tamil, Hindu minority (Mainuddin and Aicher 28). These struggles will likely resurface in the future as the relatively young sovereign nation of Sri Lanka continues to address conflicting political and religious powers in attempt to define its true national identity.


References and Further Recommended Readings

Bastin, Rohan (2005) “Hindu Temples in the Sri Lankan Ethnic Conflict – Capture and Excess.” Social Analysis 49: 45-66.

Carter, John R. (ed.) (1979) Religiousness in Sri Lanka. Colombo: Marga Institute.

De Silva, Kingsley M. (1981) A History of Sri Lanka. London: C. Hurst.

Deegalle, Mahinda (ed.) (2006) Buddhism, Conflict and Violence in Modern Sri Lanka. New York: Routledge.

Holt, John (ed.) (2011) The Sri Lanka Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, USA: Duke University Press.

Jayaram, Narayana (ed.) (2004) The Indian Diaspora: Dynamics of Migration. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Kumar, Pratap P. (ed.) (2013) Contemporary Hinduism. Durham, UK: Acumen.

Mainuddin, Rolin G., and Joseph R. Aicher (1997) “Religion and self-determination: A case study of Sri Lanka.” Indian Journal of Asian Affairs 10:26-46.

Nubin, Walter (ed.) (2002) Sri Lanka: Current Issues and Historical Background. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Olson, Carl (2007) The Many Colors of Hinduism: A Thematic-historical Introduction. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Rodrigues, Hillary (2006) Hinduism: The ebook: An Online Introduction. Journal of Buddhist Ethics Online Books.

Schwarz, Walter (1988) The Tamils of Sri Lanka. London: Minority Rights Group.

Welbon, G. R., and G. E. Yocum (eds.) (1982) Religious Festivals in South India and Sri Lanka. Delhi: Manohar.

Wickramasinghe, Nira (2006) Sri Lanka in the Modern Age: A History of Contested Identities. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i Press.


Related Topics for Further Investigation



Cidambaram temples

Cola (or Chola) Dynasty


Dravidian (south Indian) culture



Saiva Siddhanta


Siva Nataraja

Tamil Nadu





Noteworthy Websites Related to Topic


Article written by: Harshil Patel (April 2016) who is solely responsible for its content.

The Kingdom of Champa

The Kingdom of Champa at its peak ruled much of modern day Viet Nam. The Kingdom stretched from Quang Binh province to the southern border of Binh Thuan, also large portions of eastern Cambodia and Laos (Adam 2). Champa endured for nearly a millennium, leaving behind some twenty five temple sites (Adam 3). Its ancestors continue to thrive today.

Champa has a blurred beginning of multiple origins involving a combination of three peoples, each with significance and importance. These three are the Sa Huynh people, Funanese, and dynasties of Lin Yi.

The Sa Huynh people are the ancestors of the Cham. They are thought to have migrated to Vietnam by sea from Borneo. This would explain the Malayo-Polynesian language origins of the Cham language compared to its contemporaries in the same region like the Funan, Dai Viet and Khmer speaking Vietnamese or Mon-Khmer languages (Higham 297). Another cultural variation was the burial of Sa Huynh dead in large ceramic urns (Tingely 82). This was an unusual burial practice in mainland Southeast Asia. They adorned their dead with agate, carnelian, and glass beads from India, as well as gold and glass beads from the Mediterranean; suggestive of Champa’s vast seafaring competency (Higham 297). As Hinduism became increasingly popular, cremation became a prominent practice. Ashes would be collected in jars and then spread across the rivers (SarDesai 23: 1989).

The Kingdom of Funan was one of the first Southeast Asian kingdoms to adopt Hinduism, which they attribute to a legend of an Indian Brahmin, Kaundinya, who married the Naga princess Soma. Together they began the Funan royal lineage. This melded Orthodox Hindu tradition with local beliefs and mythology. Champa adopted it later through cultural diffusion and annexation of the Funanese territory of Panduranga (SarDesai 1988: 23).

The Lin Yi state has two likely relations to the Champa. Lin Yi is either the proto-nation of Champa, while it was severing from China, or it is merely the Chinese designation of that region (which was changed many times throughout its history), thus making Li Yin synonymous with Champa. Lin Yi should not be thought of as a unified state, but as many small kingdoms whose language and shared animosity of the Han Dynasty united them to separate from it in 192 CE. China still uses this ancient ownership to support their claim to some of the archipelagos in the South China Sea, specifically the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos (Adam 1).

Champa’s heyday was between the 6th and 15th centuries. Much of the knowledge on Champa comes from through physical evidence such as stone murals and temples. Champa’s contemporaries, such as the Dai Viet, contain bias accounts of Champa as warmongering pirates. The Chinese Dynasties only have an account of Champa when it was an interest to China (Tingely 189). Coastal Viet Nam is a fragmented geography with fifteen major rivers and mountains, which denied it the ability of a unified kingdom (Tingley 179). This geography is attributed to Champa’s seafaring lifestyle: a powerhouse on the sea but lacking on land. Modern interpretations of Champa consider it less of a unified kingdom, but a contingent of provinces that were united by a common culture, language and adversaries (Tingely 193). Champa is usually divided into five main regions. Some of these regions are directly correlated to modern day settlements. These regions were concentrated areas of settlement and ritual activity. From south to north they are: Panduranga/Thuan Hai, Kauthara/Nha Trang, Vijaya/Quy Nhon, Amaravati/Quang Nam, and Indrapura/Dong Duong (Tingley 180).

Vietnamese records portray the people of Champa as being malicious pirates. Champa did gain some wealth with piracy, but not exclusively. Piracy was a direct consequence of Cham ports not gaining profit due to Ming Emperor, Yongle 1403-1424 CE. Emperor Yongle cut out the Cham middlemen and set up direct trade routes from China to Southeast Asia (Tingely 189). During times of prosperity Champa’s trade influence stretched all the way to North Africa in the west and Japan in the East. A Muslim geographer wrote, Champa “produced ivory, camphor, nutmeg, mace, cloves, agarwood, cardamom, cubeb, and other substances” (Adam 4). Shipwrecks in the Philippines show green-glazed ceramics from Vijaya (Adam 4). Champa not only distributed wealth across their trade networks but also culture, especially Cham music, which influenced early Vietnamese court music (Adam 8). Traditional Cham music is still practiced in Viet Nam, especially in resorts and restaurants (Adam 8).

Champa had long lineage of kings. A king would be the leader of the most powerful Cham province at the time (Tingely 197). However, Champa was not unified and there were few who could stand out as “great”. The lineage may be long but it is also fragmented with diverging cultural influences, foreign occupations and a lack of records. Chinese records provide us with the early insight (Higham 301). Zhu Lian was of Lin Yi. He was the man who led to the separation of what would be Champa from Han China. For reference, Champa was not referred to as “Champa” until 629 CE by the Chams themselves, 657 CE by the Khmers and not until 877 CE by the Chinese (Higham 299). This is most likely due to increasing Sanskrit influences, as the name Champa is of Sanskrit origins. The newly separated state annexed the border fortress of Qusu, which defended the early kingdom (Higham 300). The Chinese sacked and recaptured Qusu in 446 CE, where it is said they put all inhabitants aged fifteen and over to the sword (Higham 301). Afterward, both states held an uneasy peace where they were able to share knowledge such as Chinese city defense and Chinese military architecture (Higham 300). This knowledge allowed a tactical edge in combat. During this time more ports began to open allowing Indian merchants’ access to Champa. With this new access came an introduction to Hinduism.

During the reign of Fan Hua 380-413 CE, through Indic influence, the Sanskritization of names in the South Indian Pallava style of naming, ending names with “varman,” and adoption of Hinduism flourished. Thus the king took the name Bhadravarman. Bhadravarman began inviting Brahmins to Champa (Higham 300-302). The Brahmins brought with them the sacred Vedas. Hindu Chams are given the title Balamon (Minority Rights Group 10).  Bhadravarman erected the most holy site in all of Champa, the temple complex of My Son. My Son grew to consist of seventy different temples. My Son is also an important centre for the understanding of Cham culture and the lineage of kings. In the temples, subsequent kings added stone murals and inscribed stelae over the ages (Higham 302). Bhadravarman temple was dedicated to a linga that combined Siva’s name [Isvara] with that of Bhadravarman himself, the Temple of Srisanabhadresvara. Most Balamon Cham temples were dedicated to Siva (Tingely 181). Subsequent kings worshipped the linga to seek legitimacy by making divine connection to Bhadravarman. This temple no longer stands today as it was burned to the ground in the sixth century. A later king, Sambhuvarman, built his own temple to Siva called Sambhu-Bhadresvara (Kumar 30). There is an inscription at My Son, which explains “Sambhuvarman’s glory rose like the autumn moon”. Sambhuvarman heightened his prestige by making divine connection to Siva and Bhadravarman (Higham 302).

Saivism’s popularity probably came about due to Siva’s relationship to mountains (Tingely 210). The Chams revered mountains and often placed many of their temples there. My Son was in a valley shadowed by Mount Mahaparvata and is considered particularly holy, as evidence by the seventy temples placed in My Son between the fifth and thirteenth centuries (Tingely 210). The linga is the most popular representation of Siva in Champa. However, images of Siva’s human like form have been found including one of Nataraja [King of the Dance] (Tingely 222).  Statues of Siva’s sons, Ganesa and Skanda have also been found, yet it is unsure if they were worshiped separately or as attendants to Siva (Kumar 23).

Images of Visnu and Brahman were present in Cham art but, there is no evidence of any major dedication to their worship (Tingely 224). An image of Krsna holding up Mount Govardhana has been found, which highlights Cham reverence of mountains and perhaps to Krsna (Kumar 37). The mythic episode of Ravana holding up the Kailash Mountain [Siva’s abode] has also been found, again a mountain theme (Kumar 46). While Visnu worship had little prominence some reliefs of the Ramayana have been found indicating it may have had popularity (Kumar 46).

The goddess Yang Po Nagara, of Cham Hinduism had renown nearly equally to that of Siva (Tingley 226). The temple of Po Nagar was dedicated to her worship. She is not found to have a relatable character in either Hinduism or Buddhism. Cham rituals today venerate her as “the goddess of the country, who created trees, forests, and rice paddies, and who taught the Cham to cultivate” (Tingely 226).

Cham temples were structures with one chamber, usually built with red bricks, a staple of Cham architecture. There was only one entrance, much like early Hindu temples. The base of the temple is usually square with a pyramidal roof called a kalan (Kumar 30) which parallels the sikhara of India. The kalan represents the sacred Mount Meru, the home of the gods (Kumar 30). The Cham temples design is similar to the Nagara temples of northern India.  A precise iconography system was important in Hindu temples in India. Deities inhabited certain precise points on the outside walls of temples. Specific iconography adherence was not evident in Cham architecture, but icons are present in some cases. The interiors were rather small and usually dimly lit with a candle or slivers of sunlight. Sanskrit texts call it a womb chamber [garbha grha], which held a single image. The usual image in Cham temples would be a linga mounted on a yoni (Tingely 181). The most profound difference between Indic and Cham temples is the presence of an elaborate pedestal on which the central image rests. In India it would only be placed on the stone foundation (Tingely 182). These pedestals would be square with one or two increasingly smaller squares on top of it with beautiful carved Cham and Hindu motifs around their perimeters. This pedestal may be due to the understanding of a text called the Silpa Sastras “The science of Silpa [arts and crafts].” The Silpa Sastras offered guidelines for temple design. A reference in the Sastra indicates “the importance of the seat of the god, endowing the base, or support of the god, with almost as much importance as the god itself” (Tingely 182). However, its prominence may be more likely related to indigenous beliefs reworked by Hindu tradition (Tingely 182). These pedestals have been found at major Cham religious centres, Hindu and Buddhist, such as My Son, Tra Kieu, Nha Trang, Po Nagar and Dong Duong (Tingley 182).

In 875 CE King Indravarman II erected a new dynasty in the Northern portion of Champa at Indrapura – Dong Duong. After repulsing an invasion by the Khmers, Indravarman was the first Cham to adopt Mahayana Buddhism. He constructed a monastery dedicated to the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara [Lokeshvara], which now lies in ruins. Buddhism gained prominence in Champa for a time much like it did in India. It must also be mentioned there was a blending of Saivism with Buddhist. Indravarman still honoured the linga Bhadresvara in an inscription at Dong Duong (Tingely 216). Dong Duong was the centre of Cham Buddhism. The bodhisattva Ajaya Avalokitesvara or Guanyin “Lord who looks down” was particularly revered in as he offers protection from danger (Tingely 172). Cham Buddhism is still trying to be understood as the excavations at Dong Duong continue (Tingely 187). The Dong Duong temple consisted of three court yards (Tingely 186). In the first is a monastery, the second a long pillared hallway and the third contained the main sanctuary surrounded by nine smaller buildings representing the navagraha (Tingely 186). Pairs of guardians were placed at the entrances of the courtyards. These images emphasize the intense physiognomy. These sentinels are identified as: dharmapala “Protectors of the Law” (Tingely 187).

From 1100-1200 CE there was a period of war with the Khmer of Angkor where the balance of power was constantly fluctuating (Tingley 188). Based on documented accounts of King Jaya Indravarman IV’s 1177 CE sack of Angkor, Chams weaponry included crossbows. Crossbows were a technology adopted from the Chinese and were used on horseback. The usurper king of the time was Tribhuvanadityavaraman. Khmer Jayavarman VII assumed leadership and led the resistance, but was reluctant to take the throne. In 1178 CE, on Lake Tong Sap, the Chams were defeated decisively by the Khmer. By 1203 CE they occupied parts of Champa Vijaya. In the 13th century Champa rose up again, as the Thais in the west pressured Angkor. Reliefs such as the one on the Bayon in Cambodia provide us an image of Angkorian, and in turn, the Champa army composition. The army consisted of war elephants, limited cavalry archers and infantry levies usually dressed in a loincloth with a single spear (Higham 306).

The last strong king of Champa was Po Binasuor [Che Bong Nga], who ruled from 1360-1390 CE (SarDesai 1988:33).  In Vietnamese stories he is called the Red King. Po Binasuor was able to, for one last time, unite the whole of Champa. He was nearly able to conquer Champa’s northern enemies – the Dai Viet. The Cham navy was able to sack the capital at Thang Long in 1372 CE (modern day Hanoi). These attacks continued until Dai Viet general Ho Quy Ly in 1390 CE finally halted the offensive, and Po Binasuor was shot and died in the battle (SarDesai 1988:33). Dai Viet was a puppet state of the Ming Dynasty until 1426 CE when Le Loi led the Lam Song uprising and gained Dai Viet independence. (SarDesai 1988:34) The Dai Viet looked to enlarge their territory and they turned south to Champa. This was the beginning of the slow collapse of Cham territory southward. In 1471 CE the Dai Viet captured Vijaya. (SarDesai 1988:23). With this annexation the Cham people began to immigrate to places such as Cambodia. Even though once old enemies, their cultural practices were familiar to those of the Vietnamese descendants. The Champ people preferred the Hindu Khmer to the Sino-or Confucian cultured Vietnamese (Minority Rights Group 10). By the mid-1600 CE the Dai Viet reduced the Champa Empire to the southern province of Panduranga. Here the last vestiges of Champa remained and in a sense, found new prosperity; a prosperity similar to the 16th and 17th centuries. Temples were still being erected, especially by the King Po Rome. Rome, the last king of the brick towers, created one of Champa’s largest towers, and its last (Tingely 192). Unfortunately, in 1832 CE Vietnamese Emperor Minh Mang campaigned to stamp out the remnants of Cham identity. Minh Mang ordered the destruction of the temples and villages. This is the main reason Champa is a largely unknown kingdom. There was destruction of ancient Cham physical culture. Many more Chams then fled to Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries. The Vietnamese continue to build rice paddies, dragon fruit plantations and shrimp farms over old Cham sites in addition to using the bricks for modern construction projects (Adam 7). In 2001 and 2004 human’s rights protests in Vietnam, from multiple minorities including Cham, saw mass imprisonment and even deaths (Adam 9).

However, the Cham people still survive in Southeast Asia today. The Chams are renowned for their textiles, which are hand-woven on looms (Adam 7). The exact number of Cham descendants is contested, but estimates come in around 400,000-700,000 strong (Minority Rights Group 10). The Chams are an officially recognized minority in Vietnam and Cambodia. Very few Chams can read and write in their native tongue due to government policies requiring them to use only the state language. The Cham language can only be transferred orally from generation to generation by family (Adam 8).

Cultural changes occurred as Malay Muslims migrated to Cambodia over the centuries. The interaction with Malay Muslims led to many Chams following the Islamic faith.  They are referred to as Bani Chams. Islam was present as early as 986, but its following was insignificant (Adam 6). Islam toady is the faith of the majority of Cham diaspora (Minority Rights Group 10).  However, in Vietnam Hinduism still has the majority (Minority Rights Group 10). Both Hindu and Muslim Cham worship ancestors and even some Balamon observe a Bani variation of Ramadan, Ramawan (Adam 6). Caste distinctions among Balamon Chams are not as important in Cham society as they are in India.  They are a matriarchal society. Daughters have the right to inheritance (SarDesai 23: 1989). When Chams marry the husband is chosen and co-opted into the bride’s family, which is opposite to that of Indian practices. Women are called household chiefs, yet the chief of the clan is male (SarDesai 23: 1989).  The Balamon Chams are one of the two longest remaining indigenous non-Indic Hindu People along with the people of Bali (Minority Rights Group 10).


References and Further Recommended Readings

Higham, Charles (1989) The Archaeology of Mainland Southeast Asia: from 10,000 B.C. to the fall of Angkor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

SarDesai, D.R. (1989) Southeast Asia Past and Present. Boulder: Westview Press.

SarDesai. D.R. (1988) Vietnam Trails and Tribulations of a Nation. New Delhi: Promilla and Co.

Groslier, Bernard-Philippe (1966) Indochina. Geneva: Nagel Publishers

Tingely, Nancy (2009) Arts of Vietnam: from river plains to open sea. New York: Asia Society.

Minority Rights Group (1995) Minorities in Cambodia. Colombo: International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

Phan, Hao N. (2015) “Cham Manuscripts, the Endangered Cultural Heritage from a Lost Kingdom.” Restaurator. 36:101-120. Accessed February 7, 2016. DOI: 10.1515/res-2014-0019

Bray, Adam. (2014) “The Cham: Descendants of Ancient Rulers of South China Sea Watch Maritime Dispute from Sidelines.” National Geographic. Accessed February 9, 2016.

Kumar, Bachchan. (2011) Arts and Archaeology of South-East Asia. New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.

Ngo, Van Doah. (2005) My Son Relics. Hanoi: The Gioi Publishers.

Ngo, Van Doah. (2012) Champa Ancient Towers: Reality & Legend. Hanoi: The Gioi Publishers.

Maspero, Georges. (2002) The Champa Kingdom: The History of an Extinct Vietnamese Culture. Banglamung: White Lotus Press.

Phuong, Tran Ky. (2011) The Cham of Vietnam: History, Society and Art. Singapore: NUS Press.


Related Topics for Further Investigation

My Son

Trau Kieu

Po Rome

Po Nagar

Dong Duong

Nha Trang



Minh Mang

Sa Huynh


Khmer Empire

Dai Viet




Lin Yi


Silpa Sastras



Po Binsuor







Yang Po Nagara



Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic


Article written by: Jon Kasperski (April 2016) who is solely responsible for its content.

The Dasain Festival in Nepal

Dasain (Dashain) or Mohani is the largest, longest and most important festival in Nepal (Gellner 148; Levy 523; Bista 12). Throughout South Asia, the Dasain festival is also known as the Durga Puja or Navaratras and is a distinctly Hindu festival. In Nepal, Dasain festivals are ritually pluralistic, mostly filled with Hindu traditions while incorporating Buddhism and maintaining indigenous ancestor worship, animism, local myths, beliefs and practices that are prominent within different regions of Nepal (Fisher 112; Campbell 232). The heterogeneity of different beliefs and practices that take place during Dasain exemplifies the diversity of Hindu traditions throughout Nepal (Fisher 110). In the Kathmandu Valley, Newars celebrate Dasain as a religious holiday centred around animal sacrifice and the worship of mandalic goddesses; festivities are filled with indigenous ancestor worship mixed with Hindu practices (Levy 525). In other areas of Nepal, Dasain can be seen predominantly as a national holiday, scattered with religious customs from Hinduism, Buddhism and Animism. Others tie Dasain festivals more to agricultural celebrations, with festivities converging upon the end of the monsoon season and the completion of harvesting rice crops, and some groups choose to follow secular customs of socializing and feasting, rejecting anything religious in nature (Levy 523; Savada 82; Allen 320; Fisher 112).

Dasain festivals in Nepal take place at the end of the monsoon season and at the end of the harvesting of rice, around the September new moon and the October full moon, depending on the region. Dasain festivities last anywhere from ten to fifteen days and are celebrated by all caste groups (jats) (Teilhet 81; Chamberlain 2001: ii & 4; Savada 12; Fisher 112). Dasain festival activities and rituals symbolize the importance of agriculture, fertility, family, and the power of royalty and lineage (Gellner 148; Bista 27). Preparations for Dasain begin several weeks before festivities start; houses are cleaned, walls whitewashed and even re-plastered (Iltis 122; Fisher 124; Chamberlain 2001: 4). In Bhaktapur, where the Nava Durga (Nine Durgas) celebration of masks is performed during Dasain, masks are prepared months in advance and preparation requires commissioning priests who recite mantras and perform ritual worship (puja), so that materials can be found and masks can be fabricated (Teihet 85-91). For those celebrating Dasain as a spiritual/religious festival, among Hindus this is a very auspicious time celebrating the victory of the Great Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon (Chamberlain 2002: 28; Savada 60). In keeping with the Hindu traditions of Dasain, each day of the festival is named after one of the Nine Durgas; the myth of Durga’s defeat against the buffalo demon is told through stories, songs, and dramatizations each day throughout the festival (Teilhet 81; Chamberlain 2001: 5).

The paramount version of this story is found in the Devi Mahatmya; it is believed that demons once terrorized the world and Durga was born through the union of male deities such as Siva, Visnu, and Brahma who were unsuccessful at stopping the demons. Consolidation of these male deities’ energies, led to the conception of Durga. Through her multiple manifestations, Durga defeated the demons, including the great buffalo demon (Mahishasura) (Chamberlain 2001: 5). Dasain festivities and the telling of the myth celebrate Durga as the ultimate source, the mother of the universe who liberated the people, and it is believed that listening to the recitation of the myth will free one from mental, physical and emotional suffering (Chamberlain 2001: 4-6). Each day of the festival is named after, and dedicated to, one of the nine Durgas. Each manifestation is a representation of Durga; they are: Brahmani, Mahesvari, Kumari, Vaisnavi, Varahi, Indrani, Mahakali, Mahalaksmi and Tripurasundari (Chamberlain 2002: 29; Levy 155). Each of the nine goddesses also represents one of nine plant forms; the plant that embodies the goddess that is worshiped that day is used in many rituals to appeal for her protection (Chamberlain 2002: 29). The Nine Durgas are also connected to each of the nine planets in the solar system; worship of these goddesses helps to protect the people of Nepal from negative cosmic influences (Chamberlain 2002: 29). All nine days of the Dasain festival are also divided into three sets: day one through three are devoted to Durga’s creativity, the next three to Laksmi, representing Durga’s beauty and abundance, and the last three days are devoted to Kali, representing death and transformation (Chamberlain 2002: 29).

Within the Kathmandu Valley, Hindu practices and traditions of Dasain are permeated with indigenous beliefs. The Newar Dasain festivals are a complex sequence of events centred around dangerous goddesses (Levy 523). The entire ten day festival is a dramatization of the story of Devi (Durga), with astrological significance, temple worship and a procession to different pithas of the Nine Mandalic Goddesses around the city (Levy 531 & 155). On the first day of Dasain, barley sprouts are planted, and Brahmani is worshiped. A procession takes place as individuals leave their homes to visit the pitha of the goddess Brahmani; within homes and temples puja is performed offering grains, rice and flowers (Chamberlain 2002: 29; Levy 525). Barley is planted in clay pots; in other areas, it is planted on the floors of special rooms (Nala) set aside for Dasain where special puja takes place (Levy 527). Astrological attention is given in the timing of the planting of the barley, which is planted at the most auspicious time. In the Taleju temples of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, planting the barley is governed by the Royal Astrologer (Chamberlain 2002: 29; Levy 527). Barley symbolizes the importance of the peoples’ connection to agriculture and is representative of the goddess Durga’s generative properties. The first day of planting is called the Ghata-sthapana (installation of the sacred vessel); on the following days of Laksmi, which represents abundance, the barley leaves will become visible and on the tenth day, the day of victory, tika (red mark on forehead) paste is made from the barley leaves (Puri 7; Bista 94). Days two through six are similar to the first day, with processions going to a new worship site where a new mandalic goddess is worshiped. Following morning worship rituals, Bhagavati (Durga) is worshipped in homes and then everyone goes about their daily activities (Levy 531). During the last four days of the Dasain festival, festivities and rituals escalate; day seven sees special temple preparations being made at the Taleju temple for the festivities that will take place on day eight. The first goat is sacrificed on day seven by a chief Brahmin and there is a procession honouring an image that represents the importance of lineage and royalty (Levy 533). The eighth day is the beginning of devotion of Kali; representations of the battle are performed, and what is known as the “bloody night of sacrifice” takes place; many goats, chickens and buffalo are sacrificed, and later feasted on during the celebration of the transformation on the tenth day (Levy 534; Bista 60).

At the Taleju temple, one hundred and eight buffalo are sacrificed in honour of the Goddess Durga and her victory over Mahisasura; sacrificing the buffalo also epitomizes two days of great battles that were fought. The story of these battles is recounted on this day from the Devi Mahatmya (Levy 534; Chamberlain 2002: 29-30). Goats, buffalo and other animals must be sacrificed with a single blow to the top of the neck; the blood of these animals is then splattered on different icons representing the Great Goddess, around the floors of the temple and on special ritual clothing (Levy 337; Gellner 341-42). With participation in reenactments of Durga’s battles and the worship of the nine manifestations of Durga, individuals become, hypothetically, the deity themselves (Levy 563). Sacrifices continue into day nine, the day centered around the worship of Tripurasundari, who is full creator deity, symbolizing the culmination of the Nine Durgas. In the evening of day nine, people make offerings of flowers and will view the masks of the Nine Durgas, which illustrates their reappearance after a long sleep (Levy 539). Day nine is also dedicated to the worship of Kumari (maiden goddess); a young girl representing the Kumari makes a public appearance and she receives offerings from the people, is worshiped by the people, and they receive prasada (gift) from her (Levy 542). In Bhaktapur, the Kumari is worshiped, by worshipping all young girls of premenstrual age at the “living Kumari”; making it possible for there to be more than one Kamari in each home. These young girls of premenstrual age are worshiped are not worshiped as themselves but are seen as “vehicles [that] bring the Goddess Kumari to the homes of the people” (Levy 540).

Day ten is a very auspicious day, on this day large feasts, drinking, and gambling festivities, that have been going on since the beginning of Dasain, escalate in nature (Bista 117). On this day, families travel and meet in the homes of senior family members, married women return to their paternal homes and the younger generations are given tika and blessed by senior members (Manadhar 7). Tiak, a red past which is placed on the forehead and blesses individual with abundance, is given by a senior male to his family, and is seen as a way to help build respect for senior generations from younger generations (Mandhar 7; Gaenszle 361). The giving of tika is also seen as a celebration of royal power and hierarchy within the lineages of the people of Nepal. The King is given tika by the priests and the King will give tika to his people as well (Gellner 147). Tika is just one representation of how Dasain legitimizes hierarchical power; power is also shown by Durga shrines being placed in all police stations (Gellner 147). Dasain celebrations are just one attempt through ritual and practice to form national unity based on lineage and power; this has recently lead to groups within Nepal who do not identify as Hindu to oppose the Dasain festival.

Along with the major Hindu traditions of Dasain, there are many secular traditions as well. Dasain, for many, is a time for families to be re-united; it is a celebration of the end of a very difficult harvest season and a holiday filled with rest and relaxation (Savada 117; Allen 317 & 405). People purchase and wear their best clothing throughout the festival, but in most regions the last few days of Dasain sees an increase in festivities that include larger feasts, gambling, kite flying, fairs, making flower garlands, putting up swings and the cooking of special foods (Levy 525; Fisher 112; Allen 317). Everyone tries to go home for Dasain, shops close and business stops for the duration of the festival; people travel to visit with relatives and pay respects to ancestors. Gifts are also exchanged with family members (Chamberlain 4). In Western Nepal, the Thakali perform rituals that include features from Hinduism, Buddhism and Animism. However, Dasain celebrations tend to be less about religious practices and more of a national holiday. The Thakali clean in preparation for the festival just as other jats do, but the focus is on family and feasting (Fisher 112 & 124). For the Thulung there is an intense agricultural presence to the Dasain festivities; it is a celebration of a long harvest coming to an end (Allen 317). Feasting, cleaning homes, making garland flowers, preparing special meals, drinking, gambling and family are the most important practices, while adhering to the general constructs of Hindu practices (Gaenszle 362). Some groups in Nepal, like the Yakha, have four main days of public ritual that include slaying of model animals that are made of fruits and vegetables with straw, the straw representing the swords used in battle. Animal sacrifice still takes place, and to protect the home, a small boy from each household places his hands and feet in the blood of a sacrificed animal. He is, then, carried to his home and his hand and foot prints are placed in blood on the entrance to the home as protection (Russell 342). Throughout Nepal, it is easy to see inter-group similarities and differences within the practices, rituals and festivities of Dasain (Russell 331). For those who take part in the festival, it is the prime festival of the year. Whether Dasain symbolizes harvest, fertility, power, national unity, or religiosity, it remains one of the largest and longest celebrated festivals of Nepal.


References and Further Recommended Readings

Allen, N. J. (1997) “Hinduization The Experience of the Thulung Rai.” In Nationalism and                        Ethnicity in a   Hindu Kingdom: The Politics of Culture in Contemporary Nepal, edited by David N. Gellner, Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka and John Whelpton 303-323. Amsterdam: Hardwood Academic.

Bista, Dor Bahadur (1972) People of Nepal. Kathmandu: Ratna Pustak Bhandar.

Campbell, Ben (1997) “The Heavy Loads of Tamang Identity.”  In Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom: The Politics of Culture in Contemporary Nepal, edited by David N. Gellner, Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka and John Whelpton 205-235. Amsterdam: Hardwood Academic.

Chamberlain, Laura K (2002) “Durga and the Dashain harvest festival from the Indus to Kathmandu Valleys.” ReVision 25, no. 1.

Chamberlain, Laura K (2001) “Embodying the Goddess Durga: A Pilgrimage to the Mother Goddess of Paradox.” Master’s thesis, California Institute of Integral Studies.

Fisher, William (2001) Fluid Boundaries: Forming and Transforming Identity in Nepal. New York: Columbia.

Gaenszle, Martin (1997) “Changing Concepts of Ethnic Identity Among the Mewahang Rai.” In                 Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom: The Politics of Culture in Contemporary Nepal, edited by David N. Gellner, Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka and John Whelpton 351-378. Amsterdam: Hardwood Academic.

Gellner, David N (1999) “Religion, politics, and ritual. Remarks on Geertz and Bloch.” Social                    Anthropology, 7(02), 135-153.

Iltis, Linda L (1980) “An Ethnohistorical Study of Bandipur.” Contributions to Nepalese Studies, 8(1), 81-145.

Levy, Robert (1990) Mesocosm. Berkeley: University of California.

Manandhar, Tina (n.d.) “Digu Puja: A Ritual to Revitalize Family Among the Newars.” Tribhuvan University.

Puri, K (2014) “Being a Hindu in a multicultural context of Stavanger, Norway.” Master’s thesis, The School of Mission and Theology.

Russell, Andrew (1997) “Identity Management and Cultural Change: The Yakha of East Nepal.” In Nationalism and Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom: The Politics of Culture in Contemporary Nepal, edited by David N. Gellner, Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka and  John Whelpton 325-350. Amsterdam: Hardwood Academic Publishers.

Savada, Andrea M (1993) Nepal and Bhutan: Country Studies. Washington, D.C: Government        Publishing.

Teilhet, Jehanne H. (1978) “The Tradition of the Nava Durga in Bhaktapur, Nepal.” Journal of      Himalayan Studies 6, 81-98.


Related Topics for Further Investigation

The Devi Mahatmya

Durga Puja



Mandalic Goddesses





Nava Durga (Nine Durgas)







Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic


Article written by: Erin Davis (April 2016) who is solely responsible for its content.

Kingdom of Champa (Historical Development)

This article will be focusing on the early historical development of the Kingdom of Champa up to the peak of its power which ended in 1000 CE and the Hindu traditions that they inherited through Indianization. The article will start at the beginning of the kingdoms history and what started the initial spread of Hinduism in Champa. This is followed by a brief section on some of the practices that the Cham people adopted from India. It will then turn to a brief history of the earliest Hindu dynasties in Champa and the position of Siva in their society. A history of the Gangaraja dynasty is given along with the place of the caste system in Champa society. Finally, there is a brief history of the Bhrgu Dynasty noting only a handful of members from each dynasty leading up to the point where Champa’s power declined.

The region of modern day Vietnam in 214 BCE was conquered by the Chinese Tsin Dynasty (Majumdar 13). It was not until 192 CE that the local Cham named Kiu-Lien killed the local Chinese official and named himself king of Lin-yi, which laid the foundations for the future Kingdom of Champa (Majumdar 18). It was also by the end of the second century that the Kingdom of Champa had become a highly Indianized state in the region. Before the emergence of Champa, traders from India had travelled through Southeast Asia and Europe. Most Indian trade went to the Roman Empire exchanging exotic products for gold. However, by 79 CE Indian trade to Europe declined dramatically due to the ever growing amount of conflict in the Roman Empire. For this reason Indian trade had been slowly going towards Southeast Asia (Cady 25-28). It is due to this ever growing amount of trade to the region that Indianization occurred in Champa. Unlike the previous period a new development occurred in Indian trade patterns, as traders were then being accompanied by “educated elements capable of spreading the religions and arts of India, and the Sanskrit language” (Coedes 15) for the first time (Coedes 15). The traders brought with them Indian colonists which changed the structure of the society through the intermarriage of Indian and Cham peoples. The Cham adopted the new culture, religion and language that the colonists brought, which resulted in a cultural fusion of the Indians and the Chams (Majumdar 21). It should be noted that it was mostly the societal elite of the Chams that took in the new teaching and used the Hindu ceremonies to legitimize their rule (Mabbett 144).

It is clear from this point onward that certain Hindu traditions and cultural practices were used in Champa throughout its history. As in India the cow is considered a sacred animal and beef was not eaten in the Kingdom of Champa (Cady 107). It also appears that the Indian epic called the Ramayana was well known in Champa and in other Indianized states in the region (Marrison 46). Marriage to the Chams is considered a sacred ceremony as it was the foundation of the family. People were also only supposed to marry within their own clan, however, there were no restrictions on marrying into another caste. There is also evidence that when the husband of a high family died the wife joined him in the funeral pyre; this practice is known as sati (Majumdar 226-227). They studied all branches of Sanskrit literature and used the Hindu calendar to determine the dates of special feasts and celebration (Cady 107-108).

The first Hindu dynasty of the Kingdom of the Cham’s was the royal family of Sri Mara which was discovered by translating the Sanskrit Vo-Chanh Rock inscription. The Sri Mara royal family ruled over the Kauthara region located in modern south Vietnam in the second or third century CE. Very little information exists on the early Hindu kings of Champa, save the information provided by Chinese historians (Majumdar 21).  In the late second century, a king of the Sri Mara royal family, and those after him, raided and conquered territory belonging to the Chinese Han Dynasty. Kings of Champa moved further into modern Central Vietnam taking control of Quang-nam (Cady 59). In 380 CE, King Dharma-maharaja Sri Bhadravarman ascended to the throne of Champa and is regarded as the important king of early Champa. He ruled over the provinces of Amaravati, Vijaya and Panduranga provinces, which comprise central and south Vietnam (Majumdar 26-28). It is through King Bhadravarman’s efforts that Champa was fully indianized by the early fourth century (Cady 59-60). Bhadravarman constructed the first sanctuary of Siva called Bhadresvara in Myson, which is named to commemorate the founder. Sanskrit inscriptions of Bhadravarman are the first documentation of the religious origins of the Champa. The inscriptions showed that the cult of Siva-Uma along with the other two gods associated with the Trimurti were dominant in Champa (Coedes 47-49). Siva for a vast majority of Champa’s history has been regarded as the supreme god to which all others submit. This was emphasized by the Puranic literature brought from India. However, there were still several temples and shrines that were erected to worship Brahma, Visnu and other deities associated with Siva (Majumdar 168-172). In the period between 380 and 520 CE the “Cham alphabet” (Hartmann 11), based off Sanskrit, became its own distinctive writing style called akhar patau hayap script (Phan 106).

In 529 CE, after the rise and fall of several Hindu dynasties, the Dynasty of Gangaraja emerged with Sri Rudravarman as its head. This is the first recorded distinction of the Hindu caste system, as an inscription at Myson declares Rudravarman a son of a Brahmin and his “mother’s mother was a daughter of Manorathavarman” (Majumdar 35). This meant his father was of the Brahmin class and his mother was of the Ksatriya class. This started a Brahmin- Ksatriya caste in Champa society, however, in Champa it was considered a subdivision of the Ksatriya class. It is also determined that society was theoretically divided into the four classes, but in practice the Brahmin and Ksatriya were the only classes to existed in society only rarely mentioning the Vaisya or Sudra classes (Majumdar 214-216). It is also clear that the Brahmin in Cham society were not regarded as being of higher status then the king and the state as they were in India (Majumdar 216). During Rudravarman’s reign that the temple of Bhadresvara was destroyed in a great fire (Majumdar 36). It is also in the reign of Rudravarman that the Theravada Buddhism that was known for using Sanskrit language began to spread in Champa (Coedes 59-60). Rudravarman’s successor Sambhuvarman once again continued to raid Chinese territory in the north and the Chinese army retaliated and sacked the northern part of the Kingdom of Champa. In his reign he rebuilt the temple of Bhadresvara and gave it the new name Sambhubhadresvara. (Coedes 70-71). In 653 CE, several kings after Sambhuvarman, King Vikrantavarman took the throne of Champa and began to erect multiple religious buildings in Myson, Tra-kieu, and in areas of Quang-nam. Many of the buildings constructed in southern Champa during his reign were connect to the cult of Visnu, which was popular in the region at the time (Coedes 71 – 72).

In 757 CE the Dynasty of Gangaraja is replaced by the Panduranga Dynasty which was plagued by war and raids from the Javanese (Majumdar 49-55). In 875 CE, Indravarman II who was highly praised, was the founder of the new Bhrgu Dynasty. The dynasty was based in the city of Champapura, which was renamed to Indrapura by Indravarman II (Coedes 122-123). Indravarman constructed the Buddhist temple and monastery to the “Mahayana Buddha” (Coedes 123) called Laksmindralokesvara, which has been identified as the ruins of Dong Duong (Coedes 122-123). At this point the Kingdom of Champa is considered to have been a regional power due to its trade routes that run the length of its shores (Lawler 28). The next notable king of the dynasty was Indravarman III who in 918 CE had a golden statue of the goddess Bhagavati at Po Nagar in the Southern region of Champa (Coedes 124). Indravarman III in several Inscriptions found in Po Nagar is described as being a great scholar, knowing Brahmanical philosophy, Panini’s grammar along with the commentary of Kasika, and the Uttarakalpa of the Saivites (Majumdar 65). After the death of Indravarman III, the history of Champa is very limited as it enters a state of anarchy and war due to external threats. This was mainly due to the rise of the Dai Co Viet directly north of Champa, and the Cambodian kingdoms to the west. The history of Champa is one of decline from 1000 CE to 1471 CE as their territory is conquered by foreign powers (Coedes 124-125).



Cady, John F. (1964) Southeast Asia: Its Historical Development. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Book  Company.

Coedès, George (1968) The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. Translated by Susan Brown Cowing. Honolulu: East-West Center Press.

Hartmann, John F. (1986) “The Spread of the South Indic Scripts in Southeast Asia.” Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 3:6 – 20. Accessed February 7, 2016.

Lawler, Andrew (2013) “Inside Hanoi’s Forbidden City.” Archaeology 66:24 – 30. Accessed February 6, 2016. doi:

Mabbett, I.W. (1977) “The ‘Indianization’ of Southeast Asia: Reflections on the Historical Sources.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 8:143-161. Accessed February 28, 2016.

Majumdar, R.C. (2008) Champa: History and Culture of an Indian Colonial Kingdom in the Far  East 2nd – 16th Century A.D.. New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House.

Marrison, G. E. (1985) “The Chams and the Literature.” Journal of Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 58:45-70. Accessed February 27, 2016.

Phan, Hao N. (2015) “Cham Manuscripts, the Endangered Cultural Heritage from a Lost Kingdom.” Restaurator 36:101 – 120. Accessed February 7, 2016. doi: 10.1515/res-2014-0019.


Related Topics for Further Investigation

A Broader look at the Indianization of Southeast Asia






The Caste System




Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic


Article written by: Griffin Brown (March 2016) who is solely responsible for its content.

The Majapahit Dynasty

            The Majapahit Dynasty of the Nusantara archipelago was a predominately Hindu empire which arose in approximately 1293 CE and lasted until around 1500 CE (Hunter 28). This empire was a continuation of a previous empire called the Singhasari (Keat Gin 1208). Much of the information surrounding the establishment of this empire is found in the Pararaton, which describes the origins of the first Singhasari ruler Ken Angrok (Johns 92). Ken’s ascension to the throne is depicted as somewhat divine. Ken, in a prior life, is said to have “offered himself as a human sacrifice to Yamadipati, the Javanese door god, in order to save another being from death. . . [and promised] to return to Visnu’s heaven and thereafter be born as a superior being” (Johns 92). The fact that a dynasty is built upon this myth clearly indicates the centrality of Hinduism in Majapahit culture. Furthermore, Visnu’s role in the story prefigures the importance of Visnu worship in Majapahit Hinduism.

The role of Siva in Majapahit religious practice should also be noted. In his next life, Ken was a semi-divine figure— Visnu incarnate. Additionally, he was declared the son of Siva “in order to bring stability and power to Java” (Johns 93). This stability is fundamental to Hinduism and is known as rta. Rta is upheld by dharma (Hindu law) (Koller 133) and yajna (the rituals and rites which maintain and uphold the universe) (Koller 134) [for a detailed explanation on this, see Koller’s article]. Through Siva, Ken Angrok is able to bring balance to his empire. As Visnu incarnate, Ken’s very existence was seen as upholding rta and dharma, even though his behaviour was often undharmic [for an explanation on this behaviour see Hunter 27]. Ultimately Ken Angrok’s monarchy results in the prosperity of the Singhasari and Majapahit Dynasties. In return, the people of these empires worshipped the gods Visnu and Siva so that the dynasty’s prosperity would continue.

Initially, the dynasty was named the Singhasari and was in power until approximately 1292 CE. The Singhasari dynasty ended with the death of Krtanagara after internal political conflict (Hunter 27). Krtangara, the last king of the Singhasari, was a very important figure in regards to Singhasari-Majapahit religion. Krtangara was said to have been both Siva and Buddha incarnate (Hunter 28). This demonstrates the conflation of both orthodox and Buddhist streams of the Hindu religion in the Majapahit kingdom. This reconciliation of Buddhism and Hinduism is clearly seen in the funerary rites of Krtanagara who was deified “in the form of a ‘Siva-Buddha’” (Dowling 120). Furthermore, in practice, the Majapahit recognized the oneness of Siva and Buddha. Dowling’s article includes a poem which aptly demonstrates this by saying “there is no difference between god Buddha and god Si[v]a, the king of gods” (Dowling 120). This veneration of Siva-Buddha would heavily influence later Majapahit religion in the same way that Vaisnavism would.

The fact that Buddha and Siva were conflated in Majapahit Hinduism, reflects the notion that in Hindu thought, though there are many gods, these many gods together form one god—Prajapati creator of the universe. This combining of gods was also done with Visnu and Siva. For instance, in some cases, statues that were half Siva and half Visnu (known as Hari-Hara) would be worshipped as the supreme god (Dowling 121). This is supported by the idea that the first emperor of the Singhasari was Visnu incarnate and the last emperor of the Singhasari was Siva incarnate. Likewise, this amalgamation of gods could also be symbolic of the unity of the Singhasari-Majapahit Empire.

Two years had passed until the dynasty formally became the Majapahit Dynasty. In 1294 CE, Majapahit became the capital city of the former Singhasari Dynasty. The empire itself was restored by Raden Wijaya who assumed the role of king. Wijaya became king of the Majapahit Empire by tricking the Kublai Khan into attacking the city of Jayakatwang. Once the city was conquered and the Kublai Khan was celebrating its victory, Wijaya caught them off guard and “destroyed them” (Hunter 28).

One of the more important literary genres from the time of Raden Wijaya was the Kakawin. The Kakawin genre can be described as containing epic tales with religious themes written in a particular metre (Creese 45). These tales often “draw on the great Indian epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as the rules to prosody and ideals of literary form” (Creese 46). This period, also known as the Kadiri or pre-Islamic period, is noted for its three major sects as referred to in Kakawin literature. These sects were composed of Saivite, Buddhist, and Resi sects, also known as the “Tripaksa” (Hunter 33). Furthermore, each of these religions was supported by each other as if they were one. In his article, Hunter quotes the Kunjarakarma-Dharmakathana which says “the Buddhist monk will surely fail, if he does not know . . . the path to Si[v]a-ness” and that the “master sage who follows the yoga of Si[v]a-ness, will fail if he does not know the highest reality of Jina-ness” (Hunter 33). It almost appears that these three religious sects form a ‘trinity’ of religious practice within the Majapahit Dynasty. Although each one is distinct, they rely and co-depend on each other indicating that the divide between orthodoxy and heterodoxy in the Nusantara archipelago was not as great as that of India.

Political unity appears to have been very important to the early Majapahit (although political unity was not always a reality) as proven by the Tripaksa. Religious compromise, in theory, should prevent disunity and it is conceivable that the early rulers of the Majapahit kept political unity through their efforts to maintain religious unity. By saying that Buddha and Siva were one, the early Majapahit were able to maintain ambiguity about the identity of the state’s religion. Because of the Tripaksa, people could ideally live in harmony because of religion’s unity in the empire.

It was in the 14th century that the Majapahit Dynasty reached the height of its power. This golden age occurred under the monarch Hayam Wuruk, who was monarch from 1350-1389 CE (Noorduyn 207). This golden age was characterized by an influx of art, literature, and Indonesian culture. Furthermore, the king— Hayam Wuruk, was seen by his people as somewhat divine and was worshipped in the same way that the general population worshipped the gods. In one part of the Nagarakrtagama [see Weatherbee 415 for more information on this Majapahit text], Wuruk is compared to the many gods of the Hindu pantheon (Weatherbee 415). As Krom describes Wuruk, he was “vergoddelijkten toestand, eerst bij zijn leven” (that he was in a deified state throughout his life) (Krom 25). Furthermore, it appears that the king’s authority or claim to rule was directly given to him by the Hindu pantheon. In return, the king was to emulate the qualities of these gods. These qualities were known in Java as the astabrata or the eight royal virtues (Weatherbee 414). This notion of astabrata is also emulated in the Ramayana where Rama reminds “Vibhisana that the eight gods are incorporated into that body of the king” and that he should “follow astabrata, pointing out . . . appropriate behaviour of the king” (Weatherbee 414). What this demonstrates is that although there were significant changes and differences between Indian Hinduism and Majapahit Hinduism, there were also many similarities.

Although the intent of political unity by means of religious solidarity was desired by early Majapahit kings, it was not an easily attained goal. The empire declined in the early part of the 15th century because of many different factors. One of the primary factors was a civil war which occurred between the western and eastern parts of the empire (Noorduyn 208). Interestingly enough, it was at this time that Islam began to have a heavy influence on the western coast. From a Hindu perspective, this disunity in the political sphere perhaps led to disunity in the religious world, or vice-versa. Moreover, the undharmic actions of Majapahit kings may have also contributed to the imbalance in rta and thus causing the empire to fall. With this being said, it is important to note that Hindu religious rites and ceremonies continued to endure beyond the decline and fall of the Majapahit. For example, “great Sraddha festivals were still held in 1465 and 1486” (Noorduyn 255), thus demonstrating that though Indonesian Hinduism was central to the Majapahit, it did not die with the empire.

The Majapahit were successful in bringing Hinduism to Indonesia and ensuring its survival for over two hundred years. Although the region is now predominantly Islamic, pockets of Hinduism still exist, particularly in Bali. Much of what is known about the Majapahit reflects its strong Hindu identity. This identity is reflected in both Majapahit literature and art. Furthermore, the deification and veneration of kings as gods or demi-gods reflects the Majapahit practice of conflating political office and the religious sphere. Moreover, the existence of the Majapahit and their strong Hindu identity reflect the reality that Hinduism is not a religion which is confined to the Indian subcontinent. In conclusion, the Majapahit are a sometimes forgotten component to Hinduism; learning from their example helps one understand the totality and scope of the Hindu tradition.



References and Further Recommended Reading

Creese, Helen (1999) “The Balinese Kakawin Tradition, a Preliminary Description and     Inventory.” Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Volume 155 No 1, 45-96.

Dowling, Nancy (1992) “The Javanization of Indian Art.” Indonesia, No.54 (October), 117-138.

Hunter, Thomas M (2007) “The Body of the King: Reappraising Singhasari Period Syncretism.” Journal of South East Asian Studies, Volume 38 No. 1(February), 27-53.

Johns, Anthony H. (1964) “The Role of Structural Organisation and Myth in Javanese     Historiography.” The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 24, No. 1 (November), 91-99.

Keat Gin, Ooi (2004) Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East            Timor. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

Koller, John M (1972) “Dharma: An Expression of Universal Order.” Philosophy East and West,
Volume 22, No.2 (April), 131-144.

Krom, N.J, and Krom, N.G (1919) “De Begraafplaats van Hayam Wuruk” Bijdragen tot de Taal  Land- en Volkenkunde, Deel 75 1ste/2e Aflevering, 25-27.

Noorduyn, J (1978) “Majapahit in the Fifteenth Century.” Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en         Volkenkunde, Deel 134 2e en 3e Aflevering, 207-274.

Weatherbee, D.E (1994) “The Aṣṭabrata, Saptadewawṛtti, and Nāgarakṛtāgama VII:1-2.”
            Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Deel 150 2de Aflevering, 414-416.*
Related Topics for Further Investigation
Java (island)
Ken Angrok
Kublai Khan
Majapahit (city)
Raden Wijaya
The Pararaton
The Singhasari Dynasty

Noteworthy Websites Related to the Topic

Article written by: Jordan Born (April 2013) who is solely responsible for its content.

The Sanjaya Dynasty

The Sanjaya Dynasty was a Hinduism-based dynasty which existed in the central region of the modern day Island of Java, Indonesia (Kartaksuma 407). According to the Canggal Inscription, which was found on the slopes of Merbabu Mountain, the Sanjaya Dynasty was founded by King Sanjaya, Lord of Mataram, in approximately 732 CE (Kartaksuma 407-408). According to the inscription, Sanjaya came to power in central Java following the death of the previous king, Sanna, which left the region in a state of confusion (Van Der Muelen 30).  Sanajaya was able to restore order, and encouraged the worshipping of Hinduism in the region. The Cangall inscription contained King Sanjaya’s lingga, which was a representation of the Hindu god Siva, as well as praises of the deities Brahma and Visnu (Van der Muelen 18). This inscription showed that King Sanjaya was an active Hindu, and promoted the religion’s worship during the dynasty’s era. Following the death of King Sanjaya, there were 5 more kings who ruled in the Sanjaya Dynasty: Panangkaran, Rakai Warak, Rakai Garing, Rakai Pikatan, and lastly, Balitung, who died in 910 CE (Van der Muelen 30). The dynasty came to an end largely due to a migration out of central Java towards eastern Java, and it has been speculated that a major earthquake, which caused the eruption of a volcano in the area, led to this migration (Royo 138).

It was likely upon leaving Mataram and entering Eastern Java that those who were once ruled by the Sanjaya Dynasty were integrated into whichever kingdom they settled in, thus effectively ending the dynasty. It is also fair to assume that the Dynasty’s rule was likely weakened prior to this migration, thus not allowing it to take over the region migrated to, nor keep its lower-class under its rule. Lord Sanjaya himself had moved his palace several times and was able to move his Kraton (ruling city) during his rule and still maintain power, thus showing that a strong ruling class might have prevented the dynasty from ending (Van der Muelen 19).

Important to the development of this dynasty was the development of another, the Sailendra Dynasty, which followed Mahayana Buddhist principles. It appears as though these two dynasties competitive rivals, whose competing interests in the region which evidently led to conflict (Kartaksuma, 410). These two dynasties had family ties, specifically King Sanjaya, who had relations to members of the rival dynasty (Van der Muelen, 18). However, these relations eventually came to blows on 856 CE, when the Sanjayas defeated the Saliendras in a battle on the Ratubaka Plateau (Hall 354). During the time then, it would be fair to assume that this rivalry headed the spread of both Hinduism and Buddhism in Java. Interestingly, this rivalry between the two distinct dynasties represented two religions that, in current Indonesia, reflect less than five percent of the population. This rivalry also produced two of Indonesia’s most well-known and recognizable architectural structures: The Hindu Prambanan temple, and the Buddhist Borobudur.

The Prambanan temple was constructed during the rule of the Sanjaya Dynasty, and is a one of the only representations of the Sanjaya Dynasty which can still be seen today. Built approximately during the eighth to ninth century, the complex had over 200 temples within it strictly devoted to Hindu deities (Royo 137-138). Specifically, the Sanskrit epic, The Ramayana, was depicted throughout the complex, but representations were “given their own life and form in classical Indonesia” (Poortenaar 55). This temple was built about a half century after another major religious monument, Borobudur, was constructed by the rival Sailendra Dynasty (Poortenaar, 55). This rivalry can perhaps be used to explain why central Java has the highest concentration of Hindu and Buddhist temples on the Island. The temple itself was largely abandoned towards the end of the Sanjaya Dynasty in the mid-tenth century when the kingdom moved east (Royo 137-138). The complex also faced major damage in the 16th century when it was struck by another earthquake, and remained largely abandoned until it was rediscovered by Sir Stanford Raffles in the 19th century, leading to restoration attempts and eventually mass reconstruction of some of the temples, thus giving it a look which is believed to be fairly historically accurate (Poortenaar 55). It is considered to be one of the most eccentric and obvious symbols of Hinduism in Java, representing a time when Hinduism was hugely important to the region. This can be contrasted with today, where Hinduism is largely an isolated religion to the area, concentrated on the Island of Bali (Poortenaar 56).

It would seem then, that the Prambanan complex, which was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1991, is more acknowledged for its historical significance, rather than for its significance to the current religious landscape in Indonesia. According to a 2001 census, Muslims form the dominant religious group in Indonesia at 86.1%, followed by Protestants, Roman Catholics, unspecified groups, and Hinduism at 1.8% (CIA World Factbook). By these statistics, it can be seen that Hinduism only has a small minority of followers in the country. However, political conflict and tension in the 1960’s led the Indonesian government to declare five religions as officially state recognized: Islam, Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism (Hefner 97). This official state recognition, along with conversions in the Java region, have helped Hinduism grow in regions which previously had no history of Hindu tradition and worship (Hefner 93). This is important, if only to show that while Hinduism does not have the significant following it had during the Sanjaya dynasty, it does receive state recognition and even funding despite the fact that it only has a fairly small following when compared with other religions in Indonesia.

The Sanjaya Dynasty then, can be seen as a specific era during which Hinduism was openly worshipped and practiced. Indonesia today is known for its massive Islamic population, but perhaps the Sanjaya dynasty and specifically, the Prambanan complex temples which it left behind, can serve as a reminder of the once thriving Hindu culture that dominated the Island of Java in the eighth to tenth century.


C.I.A World Factbook (2011) Indonesia. Retrieved from publications/the-world-factbook/geos/id.html.

Hall, D. G. E. (1965) “Problems in Indonesian Historiography.” Pacific Affairs 39(3/4) 339-348.

Hefner, Robert W (2004) “Hindu Reform in an Islamizing Java: Pluralism and Peril.” In Ramstedt, Martin (Ed) (2004) Hinduism in Modern Indonesia: A Minority Religion between Local, National, and Global Interests. New York: Routledge-Curzon.

Kartakusuma, Richadiana (2006) “The Influence of Hindu-Buddhism on Javanese Culture and Society: Some Historical Notes from Selected Sources.” In Truman Simanjuntak (Ed) Archaeology: Indonesian Perspective. Jakarta: LIPI Press.

Poortenaar, Jane (2009) “Viewing the Borobudur. In Hellwig, Tineke & Tagliacozzo, Eric (Eds)  (2009) The Indonesian Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham: Duke University Press.

Royo, Alessandra Y Lopez (2003) “Dance in the 19th Century Java: A Methodology for the  Analysis and Reconstitution of Dance. The American School of Oriental Research, 66(3)   137-139.

Van der Muelen (1979) “King Sanjaya and His Successors.” Indonesia, 28(Oct), 17-54.

Additional Readings

Briggs, Lawrence Palmer (1950) “The Origin of the Sailendra Dynasty: Present Status in Question.” Journal of American Oriental Society, 70(2), 76-89.

Briggs, Lawrence Palmer (1950) “The Origin of the Sailendra Dynasty: Additional Note.” Journal of American Oriental Society, 72(1), 37-39.

Hall, D.E.G (1966) “ Recent Tendencies in the Study of Early Modern History of South-East Asia.” Pacific Affairs, 39(3/4), 339-348.

Hefner, Robert W (1985) Hindu Javanese: Tengger Tradition and Islam. Princeton New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Soekmono, R (1967) “A Geographical Reconstruction of Northeastern Central Java and the Location of Medang.” Indonesia 4(Oct), 1-7.

Related Subjects

Sailendra Dynasty


The Canggal Inscription

Carita Parahyangan

Kakawin Ramayana

Candi of Indonesia

Noteworthy Websites Related to Topic\

Article written by Brad Robertson (Spring 2012), who is solely responsible for its content.


There are a variety of Hindu temples in Sri Lanka that are popular pilgrimage sites. One of these major temples is known as Kataragama which is located in the southeast region of Sri Lanka. Kataragama is a holy site which is used to celebrate many festivals. Some of these festivals are to celebrate the love of the Hindu God, Lord Murugan, and a village girl/goddess Valli. “Valli first met the prince/ deity Kataragama” by the Manik Ganga River, this would start the beginning of their love story (Younger 27). Their marriage is important because Valli and the Hindu God, Lord Kataragama, are from different cultural backgrounds, which is not common in India. Pilgrimage is an important part for devotees who are going to Kataragama and is a large part of worshiping Lord Murugan before arriving at Kataragama. These festivals bring in many families, and religious groups, and aid in preserving the traditions of Hinduism. One major festival is the Kataragama festival, which celebrates Lord Kataragama/Lord Murugan.


Pilgrimage can be interpreted as when a person leaves a place they know to be safe and ventures into the unknown, as the Hindu God Murugan is reputed in myths to have done many years ago, while relying on faith and leaving all modern items behind (Holt & Higbee). The people of Sri Lanka leave on their pilgrimage walk (Pada Yatra) to Kataragama, which is roughly 300-400 kilometres of travel that begins almost 45 days before the Kataragama (Holt & Higbee). Devotees walk barefoot down the coast of Sri Lanka. They carry a vel, which is a spear covered with peacock feathers and fabric and is carried the entire way.

Devotees leave on the Pada Yatra to focus their minds on the Divine (Holt & Higbee). While on the Pada Yatra, pilgrims stop at villages on the way and eat with other believers. When at these villages, devotees perform pujas (prayers to Murugan) asking for many things, such as healing, love, and for Murugan to be a part of their lives. Every time a Pada Yatra leaves a village it grows since members of the village join the pilgrimage (Holt & Higbee). When the pilgrims get to a point where they can see the peak of Kataragama Mountain, they stop to say another puja (Holt & Higbee). Once the pilgrimage makes it to Kataragama they stay there for the two week festival.

Kataragama Festival

The Kataragama festival is held at the holy site of Kataragama to worship Lord Kataragama/Murugan. The Kataragama festival is held annually, and “commences on the new moon (July-August)” (Navaratnam). “The festival takes place on the edge of the great Yala Forest” which is controlled by the Sri Lankan government (Younger 26). Thousands of people gather at Kataragama “…to fulfil their vows or to seek knowledge and guidance.” (Navaratnam).

When the pilgrims arrive at Kataragama they are greeted by the many that have already arrived for a meal. Once this meal is finished the devotees then a hike up the Kataragama Mountain to a sacred site where they perform a puja to Lord Murugan. They also perform a scared ritual to a large vel of Lord Murugan. A selected individual dresses the vel in clothes and peacock feathers. Another puja is performed after the vel has been dressed. It is at this point the pilgrims place their vels which they have carried on the Pada Yatra by the large vel of Lord Murugan to show they are devoted to him (Holt & Higbee).

The perahera (procession) is a popular ritual of the Kataragama festival. This ritual consists of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Veddas parading “the casket of a god on the back of an elephant with chamera, damps, and flambeaux” between three temples (Navaratnam). The perahera always concludes at Lord Kataragama’s temple. “This central ritual is a dramatic procession” which occurs every “evening as Lord Kataragama emerges from his temple and rides on the back of an elephantto the temple of the village girl/goddess Valli” (Younger 29-30).

This procession occurs “on the first fourteen nights for the festival. On the thirteenth and fourteenth nights, there is a second quiet visit at midnight. On the fifteenth night the midnight visit lasts until the wee morning and the romantic bond is consummated.” (Younger 30)

The yantra (which contains the power of gods) of Lord Kataragama is dipped in the sacred water of Manika Ganga on the last day; this is known as the Water-Cutting Ceremony, and takes place on the last morning of the full moon. Many devotees dump water on their bodies and drink it, since the water is said to heal one’s body from any diseases or illnesses. The Water-Cutting Ceremony is supervised by the LTTE to monitor the crowd and to protect the casket (Holt & Higbee). Once the Water-Cutting Ceremony is completed Murugan is taken to Valli’s temple so he can bid her farewell until the next year (Holt & Higbee). This concludes the perahera until the next year.

Another common ritual “is the exciting fire-walking ceremony” (Navaratnam). This is performed a couple days before the end of the Kataragama festival. The fire-walking ceremony occurs late in the evening and proceeds into the morning. The fire-walking occurs on a piece of land which spans about twenty feet. The participants perform the ritual “after finishing their religious ablutions in the waters of the sacred-river” (Navaratnam). After the participants have been blessed they make a last request for strength. Then the shouts of “Haro Hara” are made and the participants either run or walk barefoot over the cinders. This ritual is intended to show the power of faith and it is held that if one did not have faith they would be burned by the hot coals.

Work Citied

Haro Hara, Pilgrimage To Kataragama Sri Lanka, Samuel Holt, and Ethan Higbee. Normad Productions, LLC/ Permanent Marks, LLC, 2007.

Navaratnam, C.S., (1964) “Three Murugan festivals of Sri Lanka” Short History of Hinduism in Ceylon

Younger, Paul (2002) “Playing Host to Deity” On the Edge of the Forest (pgs 26-40).

Related Topics

Lord Murugan

Fire-Walking Ceremony

Related Websites

Written by Kendra Darr (Spring 2009), who is solely responsible for its content.

Hindu Diaspora (Western Canada)

The Hindu diaspora in western Canada can be traced back to the migration of South Asians during the early nineteen hundreds. The earliest known Hindu immigrants were a small group of Punjabi men that arrived in British Columbia between 1900 and 1908 (Botting and Coward 35). Upon their arrival the immigrants were granted full British citizenship by the federal government which enabled them to vote and aided their ability to find work. This was significant as the first immigrants had left their homeland and families in search of work to provide funds to purchase farmland in Asia (Ibid. 36). With this intention the early immigrants had only planned to stay in Canada temporarily. However, within a few years the initial plan changed as the temporary settlements the first immigrants had built in Canada became permanent.

By 1907 the population of south Asian immigrants had grown substantially. The men had started to use their income to bring their wives and children permanently from south Asia to British Columbia and had begun to create their own lives in Canada. As the population of immigrants grew the Anglo Saxon inhabitants began to perceive them as a threat. The Anglo Saxons came to believe that the south Asians would overwhelm their population due to the immigrants cultural and religious diversity and began to pursue a means to ban south Asian women from entering the country. The Anglo Saxon population believed that if the south Asian women were denied entry to Canada the men would have no way to start a family and set down roots (Gupta 61). The Anglo Saxon inhabitants started to raise their concerns nationwide through newspapers, petitions, and rallies. The issue drew to the forefront in 1907 when the federal government voted in favor of revoking all the British citizenships they had granted to south Asian immigrants (Ibid. 60).

By 1908, the provincial government had followed suit by suspending the right of all south Asian immigrants to vote in municipal and provincial elections. At the same time, the provincial government denied the same immigrants the ability to serve as school trustees, on juries, in public service, holding jobs resulting from public work contracts, purchasing crown timber, as well as practicing the professions of law or pharmacy (Botting and Coward 36). However, this was not enough for the Anglo Saxon inhabitants as the immigration of south Asians had yet to be deterred. Later in the year, the demands of the Anglo Saxon community were met with the immigration policy known as the continuous journey stipulation which required immigrants to purchase a ticket from one’s country of origin through to Canada (Ibid). At that point there were no shipping companies with the capability to cover both the Indian-Hong Kong and Hong Kong-Canadian portions of the trip making the purchase of a continuous ticket impossible. The continuous journey stipulation succeeded in cutting off the immigration of south Asians for decades to come.

In 1919 amendments were made to the immigration policy in an effort to allow legitimate wives and children to join their husbands and fathers in British Columbia (Ibid. 37). The Canadian government demanded that the legitimacy of the wives and children be proven by certificates of marriage or birth. However since no formal records of such a nature were retained by the south Asian governments prior to 1924 only a minority of women were able to immigrate on these grounds. As a result, between 1920 and 1940 only 144 women and 188 children arrived in Canada leaving the south Asian immigrant population in British Columbia static until 1950 (Gupta 61). South Asian immigrants were not openly welcomed into Canada again until the 1960’s when Canada experienced a shortage of qualified professionals and blue collar workers. In response the first large group of Hindus immigrated to Canada from the north Indian province of Uttar Pradesh. This initial movement started a new wave of Hindu immigrants to Canada from former British colonies. Over the next decade Hindu professionals immigrated mainly from East Africa, South Africa, Fiji, Mauritius, and Guyana; while a number of blue collar workers came from Trinidad (Buchignani 212).

The current problems faced within the Hindu diaspora in Canada no longer center on immigration issues but on the retainment of the traditional practices of the Hindu religion itself. By 1991 the Canadian census stated that the Hindu population in Canada had risen to 157,010, of which the greatest concentrations were found in greater metropolitan Toronto and Vancouver (Botting and Coward 35). The majority of the population in the two centers were separated into two distinct age categories, below the age of 15 or between the ages of 25 and 44. With these demographics the diasporic family structure has become different from the traditional structures found in south Asia. Conventionally the grandparents and parents would share the role of educating the children in the customs and traditions associated with the Hindu tradition. In the Canadian diaspora grandparents usually do not live with the family (if they even reside in the same country as their family) which has left a rift in the religious education of the younger generations (Ibid. 45). The second and third generations of Hindu immigrants in Canada have three primary sources for the attainment of education surrounding their traditional languages, culture, and religious knowledge. The first of which is their immediate family, the second is their participation in heritage and cultural programs, and thirdly on trips to India (Pearson 438). As heritage and cultural programs are not widely popular and trips to India are not always possible, Hinduism in the diaspora has come to rely heavily on the family home devotions of its followers as well as the guidance of the guru to transmit the religion to younger generations.

In India the guru plays a pivotal role within the Hindu tradition. The guru was given the responsibility of interpreting the scriptures for the community. As Hinduism places an emphasis on the sacred experience rather then the sacred text, the guru became a driving force for the movement. The guru allowed for the continuation and adaptation of the tradition within the growing postmodern world (Botting and Coward 41).

As many Hindus are involved in Canada’s fast paced culture, time constraints have affected their ability to fully carryout daily devotional practices. In order to provide the worshiper with the ability to carry out their daily devotions family gurus have simplified the devotional practices. One new aspect of devotional worship known as the guru-mantra was brought about to replace the traditional practice of chanting Sanskrit texts (Botting and Coward 44). As the younger generations have not had the chance to memorized sacred texts and languages the same way their parents had, gurus have replaced this with the practice of chanting the guru-mantra 108 times 2 to 3 times a day (Ibid. 46). The institution of the guru-mantra has proven to be effective in Canada however it does raise questions regarding the simplification of the tradition. With such dependence on the guru one may find Canada’s future form of Hinduism to more closely resemble that of India except with a greater dependence on the priestly cast (Botting and Coward 46). It has also been argued that without the second and third generations learning the sacred languages and texts as deeply as their parents they may have lost their ability to see the importance of the devotional lifestyle outside of Hinduism’s major rituals such as naming, marriage, and death (Pearson 430). However, it is important to note that the third generation has exhibited the most interest in rediscovering and restoring the practices of their grandparents (Botting and Coward 38).

While individual practices held within Hinduism have been more easily carried over in the Canadian diaspora public rites have not. One such case can be found in the Hindu death rite. Often Hindu communities in Canada do not have their own temple equipped with the means to carry out such a ritual to the standards of law (Ibid. 42). In Canada family and friends of the deceased are often forced to perform the death ritual at a funeral home with the necessary facilities for cremation. At the start, an invocation to Visnu may be offered followed by a mantra from the Upanisad. Next ghee will be placed on the body, a drop of water will be put in the mouth, and flowers are offered while the body is being placed in to the casket. Funeral homes in Canada will not allow for the eldest son to fully perform the havan as it requires offerings to be made to the fire God Agni who bears the dead to the eternal realm. However, the mantras for the havan are said even if the fire offering is unable to be made (Ibid. 42). The funeral pyre has become the cremation furnace which requires a mechanical lift to place the body into the furnace. In India the family and friends of the deceased would have traditionally placed the body on top of the pyre. As the furnace has its own ignition mechanism the ghee no longer plays a role in the actual ignition of the pyre. The restructuring of the death ritual to fit Canadian standard’s has left it abstract, removed from the mourners, and at a loss for its great symbolic and theological meaning (Ibid. 43). In an effort to reclaim some of the portions of the death ritual lost when it is held in a funeral home Hindu communities in western Canada are building their own crematoriums to allow them the ability to properly carry out the ritual (Ibid. 44).

Within the last century the Hindu diaspora in Canada has evolved to fit its ever changing environment overcoming political and social pressures to find its place in the fabric of Canada. With the movement currently in its third and fourth generations removed from its initial immigrants, its ongoing success in Canada will center on the traditions ability to reach individuals and families in a meaningful way while maintaining the sacrality of the tradition. The continued growth of the movement will also depend on the tradition’s ability to maintain the interest of its younger generations with the threat of secularization and consumerization in Canada.

References and Further Recommended Reading

Albanese, Catherine L. (1999) America: Religions and Religion. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company

Bennett, Lynn (1983) Dangerous Wives and Sacred Sisters: Social and Symbolic Roles of High-caste Women in Nepal. New York: Columbia University Press.

Botting, Heather. Coward, Harold. “The Hindu Diaspora in Western Canada.” Rukmani, T. S. (Edited) (2001) Hindu Diaspora: Global Perspectives. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal publishers Pvt. Ltd.

Buchignani, N. (1977) A Review of the Historical and Sociological Literature on East Indians in Canada. Canadian Ethnic Studies, 9: 1.

Choquette, Diane. (1985) New Religious Movemetns in the United States and Canada: A Critical Assessment and Annotated Bibliography. Connecticut: Greenwood Press.

Gupta, T.D. (1994) Political Economy of Gender, Race and Class; Looking at South Asian Immigrant Women in Canada. Canadian Ethnic Studies 26:1.

Gaustad, Edwin S. (1983) A Documentary History of Religion in America since 1865. Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Paranjape, Makarand. (2001) In Diaspora: Theories, Histories, Texts. New Delhi: Indialog Publications Pvt. Ltd.

Pearson, Anne E. “Mothers and Daughters: The Transmission of Religious Practice and the Formation of Hindu Identity among Hindu Immigrant Women in Ontario.” Rukmani,T. S.(Edited) (2001) Hindu Diaspora: Global Perspectives. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal publishers Pvt. Ltd.

Richardson, Allen E. (1985) East Comes West: Asian Religions and Cultures in North America. New York: The Pilgrim Press.

Rukmani, T. S. (Edited) (2001) Hindu Diaspora: Global Perspectives. New Delhi:Munshiram Manoharlal publishers Pvt. Ltd.

Waghorne, Joanne P. (2004) Diaspora of the Gods: Modern Hindu Temples in an Urban Middle-Class World. New York: Oxford University Press.

Related topics for further investigation

Intergenerational issues

Burial and ritual ethics

Human rights

Religious Identity

Personal Identity

Transmission of Religious Practice

Evolution of religious practice

Noteworthy website related to topic

Article written by: Lindsey Skakum (April 2008) who is solely responsible for its content.

Modern Hinduism and the Diaspora

On the Hindu Diaspora

Burghard, R. (ed.) Hinduism in Great Britain: The Perpetuation of Religion in an Alien Cultural Milieu. London: Tavistock.

Coward, Harold, G. et al (1998) The South Asian Religious Diaspora in Britain, Canada, and the United States. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Eck, D. (2002) On Common Ground: World Religions in America. New York: Columbia University Press.

Fenton, J. Y. (1988) Transplanting Religious Traditions: Asian Indians in America. New York: Praeger.

Jackson, R., and E. Nesbitt (1993) Hindu Children in Britain. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.

Knott, K. and R. Toon (1982) Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus in the UK: Problems in the Estimation of Religious Statistics. Theology and Religious Studies Department, University of Leeds.

Knott, K. (1986) Hinduism in Leeds. Leeds: University of Leeds Press.

Lal, C. (1961) Hindu America. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

Majumdar, R. C. (1963) Hindu Colonies in the Far East. Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay.

Rukmani, T. S. (ed.) (1999) The Hindu Diaspora: Global Perspectives. Montreal: Concordia University Chair in Hindu Studies.

Vertovec, S. (1992) Hindu Trinidad. London: Macmillan.

_____ (2000) The Hindu Diaspora: Comparative Patterns. London: Routledge. Williams, B. (1988) Religions of Immigrants from India and Pakistan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.