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Gujarati Hindus in Portugal

Gujarati Hindus in Portugal

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Gujarati Hindus in Portugal.

The Community of Santo António dos Cavaleiros (Loures, Lisbon)

*Inês Lourenço (CRIA/ISCTE-IUL; Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia)

At present, there are approximately 33000 Hindus residing in Portugal –

according to the Report of the High Level Committee of the Indian Diaspora – most of whom originated from the state of Gujarat, Saurashtra region, region of western India, located on the Arabian coast of Gujarat state. This region, can trace its involvement in trading around the Indian Ocean back to the very earliest records, thanks to the strategic location of its ports. In the late 15th century, the Sultanate of Gujarat was going through a period of expansion and encouraged the settling of the first Indian communities in Sofala, Mozambique. At that time, the ports of Diu and Surat played a key role in the context of Cambay region trading, being the island of Diu a strategic port for Gujarati trade and serving as the main hub for the most important Indian Ocean trading routes (Pearson 1976, Rita-Ferreira 1985). When the Portuguese rounded the Cape of Good Hope in the late 15th century, they entered an Indian Ocean dominated by Indian traders with settlements along the East African coastline controlling trade with the Gulf of Cambay. Trading ambitions in this region led the Portuguese to conquer the island of Diu in 1535 and hold onto it throughout the next five centuries. By the early 16th century, the Portuguese had already seized the main strategic ports on the Indian Ocean. In this context,


Mozambique played a central role in the trading route stretching from India to the colonial power. The settlement of Hindu communities in Mozambique accelerated with the establishment of both a trading system and Portuguese imperial domination. The first groups to definitively settle on the East African coast were made up of rich Gujarati traders, the Companhia de Baneanes de Diu (company of merchants from Diu created in 1686) and controlled coastal trading in the first half of the 17th century, leading to a substantial growth in the Mozambique community (Antunes 2001). Diu stonemasons were also among this initial circle moving to Africa following their recruitment to build fortresses for the Portuguese in 15th century Mozambique. Migration through the contracting of these workers only took place later with state construction projects in the late 19th century, of which the Mombassa railroad is a prime example. New Indian communities emerged in Mozambique in the 19th century. They came mainly from cities in the Saurashtra province of Gujarat and represented a move towards penetrating and developing Mozambique’s more inland regions. Engaging in different migratory routes, some chose to make a final return to India after accumulating capital while others settled permanently along with their extended families in Mozambique. The latter communities adopted their own specific community strategies in setting up social, family and cultural networks.

Settlement The abrupt interruption of these systems brought about by Portuguese decolonisation led to their reconstruction, mostly in Portugal. The first Hindu families began settling in Portugal from the late 1970s. Their decision on where to live was influenced by “strategies of spatial congregation” aimed at building up

“recommunitisation” processes (Bastos 1991). They chose to live mainly in three rundown neighborhoods: Quinta da Holandesa in Areeiro close to the centre of Lisbon 2

and Quinta da Vitória in the suburb of Portela de Sacavém and Santo António dos Cavaleiros district (Loures), in tower blocks. The slum housing of Quinta da Holandesa was later demolished with occupants rehoused mainly in Chelas. In Quinta da Vitória, soon after the establishment, the community wished to build a place of worship where they would be able to congregate and celebrate. In 1983, in addition to their small domestic shrines, they began the construction of the Jay Ambé Temple in Quinta da Vitória at the same time as they were building their own homes in this neighbourhood. The Temple has recently been relocated to the building where many Hindu families have been rehoused. Although only recently officially recognized as a place of Hindu worship, this was the first Hindu place of worship in

Portugal and a statue of the goddess Ambé could be found there which was transferred from a previous temple in Mozambique (Cachado 2008). In 1985, the Hindu Community of Portugal was formally set up and immediately embarked on building the Radha-Krishna Temple in

Lumiar, completed around a decade later. This is the most high-profile Hindu place of worship in Portugal,

located in Paço do Lumiar in Lisbon. Finally and completing this overview of Hindu religious diversity, the Shiva Temple was opened in 2001 in Santo António dos Cavaleiros. This process began in 1991 when the Shiva Temple Social Solidarity Association was officially recognised as 3

representing the Hindu residents of Santo António dos Cavaleiros. About ten years later it had fulfilled its mission of building its own place of worship.

Composition of the Hindu Community of Santo António dos Cavaleiros The district of Santo António dos Cavaleiros belongs to the municipality of Loures, located in Lisbon Metropolitan Area. This place was the center of a housing expansion that began in the 60s and 70s of last century, which called for the establishment of many families from the former colonies from the late seventies. Currently with 21,947 inhabitants Santo António dos Cavaleiros has a very diverse population, originating from different countries with different religious and cultural backgrounds. The Hindus living in Santo António dos Cavaleiros constitute a community highly heterogeneous from the socio-economic point of view. It is made up of people from various points across Gujarat, some of whom were originally from the island of Diu and others from the province of Saurashtra in South Gujarat (cities like Rajkot, Porbandar or Junagadh), and therefore with diverse social groups and cultural references. Service castes, from Diu, and merchant castes from other areas in the state of Gujarat share the same residential space, as well as a common place of worship, the Shiva Temple. The differences between castes – belonging to different varna – also correspond to cultural divergences and diversities of worship, particularly


manifested in the distinction between Vaishnavism and Shaivism. Nevertheless, despite its internal differences, this community has a cohesive identity, reinforced by a religious basis, Hinduism. Such diversity has not prevented the building up of a common group identity. Community references are maintained through concrete means of cohesion: a solid religious base, a determining role for women as guarantors of cultural reproduction and a transnational network of contacts reaching out across three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. These mechanisms operate in both the public and private spheres. The public sphere of the temple provides for socialization and group social control simultaneously. In the same way, the domestic space ensures the continuity of a symbolic community through internal rules defining the limits between individuals and groups in order to ensure that common references persist. Above all, a Gujarati identity prevails due to the common language and a solid religious base; and women contribute to this by playing a fundamental role in fostering a process of cultural reproduction. These women, considered the ‘guardians’ of the group’s traditional identity, assume the responsibility of transmitting traditional references involving the negotiation of social status and manipulation of the religious structure, and taking upon themselves the task (in the sense of fulfilling their dharma) of maintaining, and thus inevitably transforming what they consider to be the group’s cultural identity in the diaspora.

Methodology and ethnography This analysis is based on empirical data obtained from fieldwork conducted among Hindu families in Santo António dos Cavaleiros constituting this the ‘object’ of ethnographic research. The methodology applied throughout the extended fieldwork was participant observation, thus implying participation in various religious events, in public and private spaces, and informal interviews carried out with a broad selection of 5

a majority of women, but also of men, belonging to this Hindu community. This fieldwork was undertaken in Portugal, the United Kingdom and India, accompanying the trans-national movement of the informants between 2000 and 2010. My main PhD research was on the articulation oF gender and religion in this particular diaspora setting. The "satsang group" was the privileged set of my anthropological research. Satsang is a word to call the devotional meetings, often almost exclusively female. This consists of a variable number of women, measured at about 25, whose participants are over 50 years old. By extension, other contacts provided by these women, particularly those of their or daughters or daughters-in-law were also taken into account. Likewise, other satsang were subject of my investigation. Women involved in cultural projects and activities of the community were also included in my universe of analysis. My participation in the various groups of satsang, along with conversations held with my interlocutors, occupied the spaces and times of their everyday lives, over which they reflected on their role in the community, their duties in their families and in their group, as well as their place in the hierarchy of gender. My mobility in the space, streets, places of leisure and commerce enabled me to observe the population geography of Santo António dos Cavaleiros, the interaction between people and their levels of exclusion, being evident the concentration of Hindu population in a specific area of the disctrict: Cidade Nova. While Hindus are still scattered from the base of the slope to the top of the Torres da Bela Vista it is in the area of Cidade Nova that most of the Hindu population is concentrated. This area was the privileged space for collecting

ethnographic data. In addition to the dispersion of the population referred above, the temple of Shiva - the Hindu temple that brings this population - is about 1.5 kilometers 6

away from this agglomeration, which, among other factors, reduces the frequency of Hindus’ participation in its religious

community life1.

Initially my walking through the district allowed me to observe, along with the residential concentration of Hindus, the concentration in the same space, of the religious daily activities. Thus proving the centrality of domestic space in the performance of religious activity and, reproduction of the group. Cidade Nova is characterized by a typical town landscape with tall buildings of many storeys, with many tenants, with small green areas, complemented by a larger green space surrounding the sport complex that separates Cidade Nova from Torres da Bela Vista. consequently, in the social and cultural


Apart from distance, the prevalence of religious practice in the domestic space, contributes to the low turnout to the temple daily.


The area of Cidade Nova Mall (a small centre) shopping and the

surrounding area is the center of the daily activities of the Hindus who remain in Santo Antonio

dos Cavaleiros during the day. Men here are few in number compared to women who cross this space daily. In addition to retirees, men who use this space are those working either in shops or itinerant markets, who only cross this space to access their warehouses and transport vehicles. While workers just cross the space between their workplaces and their homes, older men occupy most of their days among the Indian shops and park benches in the area surrounding the Mall. It is usual to see them socializing in small groups at mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Women are more active in this intersection of space. They begin in the morning, taking their children or grandchildren to school or kindergarten2. From mid-morning until lunchtime, they visit the various Indian shops in Cidade Nova to buy food or other products from India, or, most often to chat. Before lunch time they return home and go out around 3 or 4 pm again to the Shopping centre area for sightseeing, shopping or take youngsters to the playground. They also visit the places of each other, often for devotional meetings they organize. Late afternoon they return home, often accompanied by children or grandchildren who leave school. The saris characterize the landscape of Cidade Nova, expressing visually the presence of an Indian community - with a closer look, Hindu – in Santo Antonio dos


There has in recent years, an increasing influx of Sikh women to the park, following its children, in the afternoon.


Cavaleiros through its women. The youngsters also circulate daily through this space, given the location of two schools in Cidade Nova as well as the kindergarten and a small playground. The observation from the outside allowed me to grasp the dynamics of female mobility and their social networks. This shows the importance of female external elements (like clothing and ornaments), along with the physical characteristics (skin color, hair type). In addition to daily activities, religious and cultural public expressions that take place in outer space contribute to the stereotyping that consolidate an image (often reified) of the Hindus by the others. This is also a means of expression and identity construction, with certain elements that influence local and global fashions and condition the modes of thinking about society, through reciprocal inclusions and exclusions in which the female body is central. The Hindu-owned shops, of the Cidade Nova Shopping Centre, or more dispersed throughout the district, are centers of information exchanging in the community. Women actively contribute to this network, which puts them in contact with other group members, making circulate reports of events not only in Portugal but also in India, Mozambique, the United Kingdom or other countries where they have their transnational networks. In these places, they also organize future activities, publicize events, gather donations (in cash or in kinds) and call people for religious performances organized by them. Shiva Temple, despite its daily activity, only gathers large part of the community members in festive moments of Hindu calendar. The domestic sphere overrides the importance of the temple as a place of regular religious activity. In addition, its distance from Cidade Nova, where most of the Hindus concentrate, decreases the frequency of visits by their devotees, who continue to elect the home as a preferred palce of religious performance and devotional and ritual activities. Anyway, the Shiva Temple is still the most visible symbol of group identity, representing the presence of a number of Hindu religious practices and beliefs in that district. 9

The Shiva Temple Association, the entity that assumes the leadership of the temple, was established in 1984 (not oficially) in Santo António dos Cavaleiros, with the aim of bringing together the Hindu population of the district and promote the development of religious, cultural and social activities. The Hindu community living there grew substantially, making it urgent to obtain its own space to allow its congregation and socialization. In 1991, the association was legalized and a ten year project started: the construction of a Hindu temple in the district, in a plot of land given by the Municipality of Loures, in Torres da Bela Vista. Despite there wasn’t a place of worship, the community kept meeting before in rented spaces, such as the Neighborhood Association of Santo António dos Cavaleiros or the local abandoned High School. In 2001 the process of constructing a temporary building began,

preceded by the blessing of the land (bhumipujan) by Swami Satyamitranand, pending future construction of a temple with traditional architectural features of the northern Indian temples.


The temple is open every day but do not have a resident priest, and laity, particularly women are responsible for the religious activities of this community. Its activities include fixed pooja on Mondays. In the days of great festivities, such as the Navratri, local Hindus and others coming from other communities in the metropolitan area of Lisbon, attend the religious performances at Shiva Temple. In addition, weddings and religious ceremonies and cultural programs are sponsored by the management of the temple. This is also the meeting space for groups that develop religious and cultural activities groups, Gujarati such as: school, youth dance

rehearsals, women group and the management of the temple itself. The existence of a temple introduced new forms of community organization, facilitating the

formalization of groups and activities. It also contributed to the consolidation of a diaspora consciousness that was until recentky underdeveloped. Unlike other contexts where Hindu communities settled and have developed solid social, economic and cultural strategies some time ago, the Portuguese case demonstrates that, only recently, an investment in

building a broader awareness of diaspora was started. In the case of Santo António dos Cavaleiros, the recent

increase of visits of gurus and


spiritual leaders from India or elsewhere in the diaspora and their ideologically energizing speeches contributed to this. (Rameshbhai Oza, Shiva Temple, in: http://www.shiva-pt.org/fotoGallery.php) Despite the weight of the temple as the focus of Hindu religious identity of the devotees (Knott, 1987: 161), the domestic space was privileged for this research. The daily lives of women takes place from house to house, visiting each other regularly, being the satsang the highest

expression of their familiarity. There are different kinds of devotional meetings: those that occur regularly, according to the dates of religious Hindu calendar, and those that are promoted by certain religious movements. The case of the devotional meetings that occur cyclically, promoted by "satsang group" and, for example, the Sai Baba satsang, promoted by particular devotees. The first is held days on of


Hindu calendar, as is the case or agiyaras / Ekadashi (The eleventh day of each month), or days dedicated to the worship deities of certain (generally

celebrating their birth or wedding). They also gather in times associated with domestic and ritual rites of passage, particularly the death of people of the community. In the second case, the meeting happens in days dedicated to their spiritual leader and deity worship, is the case of Thursdays in the worship of Sai Baba. In these days the 12

devotees organize the devotional meetings in their sporadically homes, or

sequentially3, according to the type of satsang. The space of

everyday life, from the street to the house, is predominantly occupied by women, while most men are working outside the district. They return only at night, leaving women free to devote themselves to their domestic chores and socializing with other women during the day. These everyday activities exclude, as we have seen, prolonged contact with the men, giving the almost exclusively In this female gender the



ethnography of everyday life was also a female ethnography.

The Hindu community of Santo António dos Cavaleiros: population diversity To talk about the Hindu community of Santo António dos Cavaleiros means talking about a group of more than 2000 people residing in an area of 3.62 km2, coming to occupy, sometimes, twenty dwellings per building in the Cidade Nova area. They are divided into 13 castes originating from different locations in Gujarat, with

The fact that organize these meetings or sequentially devotional sporadic relates to the nature of some of these meetings. In the case of Sai Baba satsang, for example, there are devotional meetings that are repeated over several weeks always on Thursdays. In other cases, satsang not necessarily need to be conducted on specific days, or else may be on holidays from the Hindu calendar.



different migratory routes and with variable cultural patterns. We cannot perform a statistical analysis of this community, given the lack of population data that compose it. The municipalities do not have this type of information and the only existing numbers are advanced by the management of the Shiva Temple Association, which states that there are about 2000 Hindus living in Santo António dos Cavaleiros, but warning that these data are not consistent, given the frequent mobility of its members. The association has proposed the holding of a census of the community, but it is waiting for an agreement on the parameters to be applied4. The population of Indian origin residing in this district is divided into three distinct regional references. The majority is from Gujarat and includes Hindus, Muslims and Christians, followed by a small group of Goan Christians and Sikhs from Punjab. The diversity of languages spoken by the different groups (Gujarati, Punjabi and Hindi together with Portuguese and English) shows that the situation of pluralism exists not only in this district, but also within the group of people of Indian origin. Thus, besides the splitting of this group into subgroups, also the Hindu community itself is divided, as we saw, according to the regional, cultural and social belonging of its members. The ethnographic observation suggests that the community is divided into 13 castes. Two of these are numerically dominant: Lohana and Vanja. Apart from the three minority castes, consisting of only a few families (Brahmin, Dobhi and Valand), the remaing castes are evenly distributed throughout the district. Unlike other neighborhoods of Hindu concentration analyzed in the Lisbon area, this is geographically more dispersed and with a much more diverse and complex population (cf. Bastos, 1991; Cachado, 2003). However, when compared with other contexts of the broader Hindu diaspora, this group, originating in the same state, has a common identity: Gujarati. The study of Hinduism in Leeds developed by Kim Knott, for example, presents a very diverse universe of where we have, for example, a linguistic

The youngest sector of the association is against the holding of a census according to the varieties of individuals. It is argued against this classification in your community and proposes a more homogeneous characterization of the group.


variety, corresponding to different states of individuals’ origin (Knott, 1987: 22). Unlike the case presented by Knott, the group in question shares a single language, the Gujarati, associated with the same state of origin, sharing common Gujarati identity. The main occupation of these Indians Despite is the


stereotype of Indians usually correspond to business, this being the most significant, it is not exclusive. Many

Hindus are professionals in various sectors of the Portuguese society: services, education, medicine and engineering. Others work in the construction. The trade yet, is dominant. It is an activity that takes on different branches, between fixed and itinerant trade: appliances, food, clothing, watches, perfumes, stationery, jewelry, household items, restaurants, mini markets. Despite the abandonment of traditional caste activities among the majority of Hindus, some still preserve these specializations. Thus, among the castes of cobblers, masons and tailors, some individuals retain their traditional activity: the former have usually their own establishments, the latter working in construction. Tailors, work primarily for Indian customers, making traditional costumes, but this is not generally the only activity of the household. Some members of the Brahmins caste (priests) and barbers officiate particularly in ritual moments. With regard to standards of education of youngsters, they tend to transform in recent years, with an intensification of the continuity of secondary and above education. Education is the area where contact with members of the surrounding society is more inevitable (cf. Knott, 1986: 49). This inevitability is considered by some families to be a risk to the preservation of Hindu identity of the youngsters, being the


youth exposure to Western values sometimes seen as a threat to their integrity, particularly for girls5. We cannot define a standard level of education among the community under study. This may range from early withdrawal from school, compulsory schooling, or higher education that, increasingly, is the choice of many young people. Apart from this type of training young people, there is currently an educational structure aimed at Shiva Temple, directed to teaching the gujarati language and Hindu religious principles. This structure was formed due to the need to provide children with a moral base that wasn’t found at school and often neither in their homes. Given the lack of knowledge about religious fundamentals and rituals, and the detachment to the Gujarati language found amongst the second and third generation, the Gujarati School of Shiva Temple promotes, since 2006, the learning of mother tongue at the same time as fostering the consolidation of social networks between youngsters, through the assertion of common references, being the language one of the central elements in the reproduction identity.

The Role of Religion: Hinduism Religion can be seen as a common identifier that will overcome the differences that divide the group. However, Hinduism encompasses a set of religious beliefs and practices: various types of devotion, preference of worship deities, and attachment to certain festivities, according to regional and social belonging, that also transforms itself in the diaspora. Using again the example of Knott, a context of complexity of social and cultural belonging, and linguistic and religious diversity as Leeds, the transposition of Hinduism (in its areas of "great "and "little" tradition) led to changes that take on greater relevance in the introduction changes in ritual practice (see Knott, 1987: 163). The individual religiosity should also not be forgotten. In this sense, it is important to note that the experience of diaspora influences the way how each person


This is the main reason that lies behind the early abandonment of education for many girls, particularly among more conservative families or castes.


thinks his own religion. The distance from the original religious standards and the coexistence with other religions, leads to the need for interpretation and hence of processing of Hinduism (cf. Knott, 1986, 1987, Williams, 1996, Kurien , 1998, Eck, 2000, Coward 2000). Moreover, the influence of Western conceptions of religion may have originated, to some, a Hindu institutionalized and formalized Hinduism, with greater emphasis on cyclical festivities and rituals of passage. For others, the most popular, daily and domestic expression of the Hindu religion remains the centerpiece of their religious beliefs and practices. By stating that, religion is a central element in the construction of Hindu identity in the diaspora. It is necessary however, to resist the tendency to stereotype and / or essentializing it. The journey of Hindu residents in Santo António dos Cavaleiros from India or Africa, carries with it an enormous symbolic significance, both geographical, cultural and religious. This trip led, as is the case of many Indian communities established outside of India, to the reformatting of references through which the community represents itself. Religion has, as noted, the function of unifying the group, becoming a central reference in the identification of the community. In addition, Hinduism lived in diaspora becomes a new reality, constructed from inclusions and exclusions that result, in this case, the negotiation of identities in the Portuguese context. Hinduism should be seen as a category that includes a wide range of interconnected phenomena, so that is not possible to exist a unique Hinduism (or Hindu within regional linguistic, community), socio-cultural specificity. historical even and The or

regional diversity in India, certainly contributes to local religious practices and ideas. 17

Transposed into the context of diaspora, this capacity of flexibility is even more surprising: Hinduism should be seen as a constant negotiation of identity in different contexts.

Women As religion is a major factor contributing to the

construction of the identity of this group, it is impossible to overlook the preponderance of female role in this process. In fact, older women are seen as holders of traditional ritual and religious practices, once they ensure their cultural reproduction to youngsters during the religious moments. In the domestic space of worship they are conservative, but also renovating religious and cultural references that no longer belong to the male world. Their exclusivity in this field of religious public practice elements has made the them privileged The



absence of men during the day allows women the freedom to socialize with each other, on the one hand, and, on the other, to establish a field of religious action that belongs to them almost exclusively. Their power is quite evident if we look at the religious resources as the most relevant


identity heritage of these people, contributing to the cultural reproduction of their group. The appearance of this status of conservative of the considered traditional knowledge and of substitutes of male ritualists leads to the construction of new gender identities and, simultaneously, new ritual and social responsibilities to women. 1. The prominent presence of women in the organization of religious moments is a recurring phenomenon in several contexts of Hindu diaspora. Similarly, the religious and cultural activity in this community has become deeply associated with their women. They are

considered, the holders of religious wisdom and the guarantors of their cultural identity by the group. 2. Other women act as the vehicles through

which goddesses manifest themselves. They are believed to temporarily embody these divinities, which

communicate with the devotees through these women’s words and body language in very specific ritual events through the enactment of performances of possession. 3. In Portugal, where the temple ritualists are

scarce –while in other contexts such as the UK the public religious activities are carried out by male priests - women are holders of a privilege that made them essential to the cultural reproduction of this group, acting as priestesses.


Hindu women in Portugal took over the role of public religious space and by adopting new religious roles, they assign to themselves new social status. Women’s role transformation within the Hindu universe in Portugal is the result of a negotiation of gender identities and, consequently, of social status in a space that is conducive to the reconstruction and the reinvention of identity references: the diaspora.

The Hindu community and the surrounding society Despite the visibility that the group have in the district for public festivities, the presence of a temple, or the exuberance of women’s clothes, the relationship of Hindus with the other members of the surrounding society is, in most cases, superficial. The contacts occur on a day-to-day basis, but in simple activities such as shopping, public transportation, in the trade-in or, amongst the younger generation at school, in the university or at work. The fact that many of the Hindus of the first generation, particularly women, do not master Portuguese language, seems to be the most obvious factor for the lack of contact with other members of the society. Their days are spent with other Hindus in Indian stores, in the temple or in their own houses. They are therefore confined to activities and spaces where the dominant language is Gujarati, Portuguese remains a secondary language, used only for basic contacts with non-Gujaratis. But beyond this factor, there is also the intention of protecting the community by closing it towards the surrounding society. This reflects a process of resistance to the possible excessive Westernization and thus the disappearance of the traditional elements that are being preserved. This phenomenon is quite complex and should be subject to a careful analysis that does not produce generalizations which would reflect the ambitions and feelings that lie behind the perpetuation of traditional patterns. There is a predominance of contacts within the community, but the daily activities involve the establishment of social networks between Hindus and non-Hindus. 20

This occurs with greater intensity in professional and neighbourly contacts. But if among the elderly, establishment of social relationships outside the community is restricted, among youth it is much broader since, they’re born in Portugal, they established friendship and companionship ties at school and then at work or university. And if earlier, marriages with non-Hindu were rare, now they are becoming more frequent6. For the first generation, the Hindu ideas of purity and pollution are very present in everyday activities. In this sense, contact with non-Hindu represents always a risk of transmission of impurity, which acts like a lock to sociability outside the group. This is the reason why the domestic space is usually preserved from the outsiders. The front door represents a passage of a polluted area to a place protected from the pollution and therefore more auspicious7. The experience of diaspora leads, however, to adjustments and to the transformation of cultural and religious norms more stringent given the inevitability of contact with the outside. This phenomenon is particularly visible in two areas: in trade and cultural and religious activities of the temple. In the first case, the constant and daily contact with customers is essential for business success and some of these become often proximity relationships. However, ignorance of the lifestyles of most customers, their states of pollution carries a high risk of ritual contagion8. In the case of public activities taking place in the temple, often involve the presence of individuals from outside the community, and however received with enthusiasm, they are feared for the pollution they may carry. This was sometimes commented to me by my

It should be noted that in the case of marriages between Hindus and non-Hindus or non-Indian Hindus are men who marry women outside their community, but not the opposite, namely, Hindu women who marry men with non-Hindus or non-Indians. 7 Inauspiciousness pollution and are also associated with the notion of moral corruption of the West. 8 Influenced mainly by death, by birth or by the menses. Transport of pollutants considered foods like pork or beef is also a source of transmission of pollution.



interlocutors, concerned mainly with the possibility that women having their menstrual period may show up. As their presence in the temple in that condition is prohibited. Other dangers that concern elders are the youth’s future. Western values are sometimes seen as an obstacle to the education of their offspring according to traditional religious principles, potentially acquiring risk behaviors in the future. It is for this reason that families invest in educating their youngsters at home and in family space, so that there is a balance between the contact with the surrounding society and the principles of Hindu education. Sociability in plural contexts, as is the space under study, originates inclusions and exclusions between groups. In the field of mutual influences between the Hindu community and the general population, women have the leading role. In one hand, Hindu women retain considered traditional forms of clothing; young women have adopted Western styles9. On the other hand, non-Hindu women who share the same space of residence, became fans of modern Indian clothing stores carry new and renewed garments and accessories that are the result of a fusion of oriental and western styles, in that the original Indian etiquette is often transformed.

Exclusions / Inclusions The depth of religious reference in the existing culture of this community - Hinduism – does not only imply exclusions against the Portuguese society in general. We have witnessed a growing interest by the

philosophical and aesthetic of India from the western countries. But we have also witnessed the interaction with the Western

The expression "wearing pants" has become popular among Hindu women in Portugal, as a way to release the conventions associated with traditional Indian dress codes. The women who 'wear the pants "- among other accessories or garments Westerners - symbolize the feminine modernity, in contrast to those who remain subject to the standards imposed by the conservative clothing of their families.



context. It happens in everyday relationships between neighbors or customers who share the same space in Santo Antonio dos

Cavaleiros, but also occurs in a religious level – being the adoption of the image and the cult of Our Lady of Fatima a clear example. They organize several pilgrimages to Fatima's

Sanctuary, individualy or community; and lots of domestic temples include an image (murti) of Fatima, not only in Portugal but also in India and UK and probably in other places were their families live. The process of identity construction in the Hindu Community of Santo António dos Cavaleiros is made of traditional reproductions, exclusions and inclusions that result from their development and interaction with the space in which it resides.

The link to the origin The identity construction of the community under study is also based on a broad transnational network of contacts. This not only allows the connection between India and Portugal, but also with Mozambique and the United Kingdom and has the active participation of individuals moving between the four countries. This network supports the dynamic binding references located at the origin, allowing contact between relatives, the constant exchange of goods and information between countries, as well as the establishment of marital ties between young people from various contexts. From the perspective of individuals living in Portugal, this network of contacts can be useful to them for bringing several references from their place of origin: phone calls, correspondence or exchange orders and matrimonial exchanges are 23

mechanisms to revitalize identity. Using the Internet, as the circulation of videos of weddings held outside Portugal or access to traditional or mythological TV series or Indian cable channels, are examples of the technological contribution to global communication. In another sense, the contact with this Hindus’ cultural background is also provided through regular travel to India. The permanent mobility between countries, linked by networks of contacts, locates them into a logical and transnational affiliations between them. Travelling to the land of origin, can be harnessed to perform a series of ritual ceremonies in order to deepen the ties between the two spaces of reference: Portugal and India. In fact, these trips are always accompanied by religious moments and visits to places and people invested with divine powers. From this point of view, it is possible to verify the concern not to dishonor and to pay homage to deities, particularly the kul devi, the protective goddesses of the lineage. Wedding ceremonies, rituals of appeasement of the ancestors’ souls, visits to prominent places of worship are part of a respect to the genealogical origin: the religious potential of India is never neglected. My first stay at Fudam, following the journey of a family living in Santo António dos Cavaleiros, allowed me to realize the importance of this identity origin. For most Hindus, the connection with India is very important to maintain an identity reference. India is seen as a sacred ground, from which emanates purity greater than anywhere else in the world. Religion is the greatest trait of Hindu identity migrants, and is deeply connected to their home country, its soil and rivers deified. For this reason, this is the place chosen for the realization of important religious ceremonies. This privileged location, emanation of purity, where the rituals are most effective, is seen as a source of spiritual wealth, a genuine religious potential. 24

The belonging to India as a repository of ancestral and own religion and culture, integrates a multiple identity, in which their belonging is constructed through the articulation of multiple strands that make up a sense of belonging associated with both the place of genealogical origin and to past (colonial) and present (postcolonial) of Portuguese heritage. Heterogeneous in its interior, being composed of groups of different regional, social, economic and religious origin, this community has, however, a cohesive identity, reinforced by a religious basis. To internal differences, overlaps a common unity due to the need of preservation of harmony and dharma within the group.


References Antunes, Luís, 2001. O Bazar e a Fortaleza de Moçambique. A Comunidade Baneane do Guzerate e a Transformação do Comércio Afro-asiático (1686-1810), MA Thesis, Lisbon: Universidade Nova de Lisboa – FCSH. Bastos, Susana Pereira, 1991, A Comunidade Hindu da Quinta da Holandesa: um estudo antropológico sobre a organização sócio-espacial da casa, Lisboa: LNEC. Cachado, Rita d’Ávila, 2003. Colonialismo e Género na Índia – Diu. Contributos para a Antroplogia Póscolonial, MA Thesis, Lisbon: ISCTE/IUL. Cachado, Rita d’Ávila, 2008. Hindus da Quinta da Vitória em Processo de Realojamento: uma etnografia na cidade alargada, PhD Thesis, Lisbon: ISCTE/IUL. Knott, Kim, 1986. Hinduism in Leorgs. A study of religious practice in the Indian Hindu community and Hindu-related groups, Leeds: Monograph Series, Community Religious Project: University of Leeds. Knott, Kim, 1987. “Hindu temple rituals in Britain: reinterpretation of tradition”, in Burghart, Richard (org.). Hinduism in Great Britain. The Perpetuation of Religion in an Alien Cultural Milieu, London & New York, Tavistock Publications. Pearson, Michael, 1976. Merchants and Rulers in Gujarat, Berkeley: University of California Press. Rita-Ferreira, António, 1985. “Moçambique e os Naturais da Índia Portuguesa”, in Actas do II Seminário Internacional de História Indo-Portuguesa, Lisbo: Instituto de Superior de Investigação Científica e Tropical.


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