New article by Swapna Gopinath
Gopinath, S. (2019) ‘Heterotopic Assemblages within Religious Structures: Ganesh Utsav and the Streets of Mumbai’ Open Cultural Studies (3): 96-106
Indian urban public spaces have witnessed massive transformation post liberalization and globalization. In 2017, city spaces offer novel experiences and unravel new political dynamics in tune with the paradigm shifts in socio-political, economic and cultural domains. The city was shaped by the colonial and later modernizing forces, is being foregrounded in the postmodern, postcolonial discourses, and its public spaces therefore emerge as significant components in the social developments as witnessed in the new millennium. Ganesh Utsav in Mumbai is closely linked to India’s history of political struggle against British colonialism. There has been a phenomenal growth in its popularity and visibility, as a festival for ten days, encapsulating the whole city, transforming its identity as a financial capital of the country to a multiple layered carnival ground, with processions and festivities involving the majority of its population. Post globalization and neoliberalisation, the festival has transformed itself, assumed an identity uniquely political along with the rise of the right wing to power. My paper will be an attempt to critically evaluate this festival and the paraphernalia of sacredness that encapsulates the city space for ten days every year. While the spatial identity of religious practices is fascinating to observe, the ten-day festival of Ganesh Utsav builds a fabric of the sacred and profane across the city. The theoretical tool used in this study is Foucault’s heterotopias and Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of assemblage. The de/re-territorialising aspects of these spaces will also be examined.
Keywords: sacred spaces, heterotopia, carnival, assemblage, de/re-territorialisation