The survival of the syncretic cults of Shirdi Sai Baba and Haji Ali despite Hindu nationalism in Mumbai

Marika Vicziany

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    Abstract

    In this chapter I consider one of Mwnbai's most popular cults, that of Shirdi
    Sai Baba (1838-1918). The original Muslim shrine in Shirdi, some 300 kilometres
    from Mumbai, has become thoroughly Hinduized or Brahmanized in
    appearance and rituals, and the management trust consists only of Hindus. At
    the other end of the spectrum, we have the equally famous Muslim shrine
    (dargiih) of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari on the Worli foreshore in Mumbai. In
    contrast to the cult of Sai Baba, the Muslim trust that looks after it has
    ensured that the Islamic character of the Haji Ali dargiih remains undiluted.
    Yet many visitors and worshippers are not Muslims. Why do they come to the
    shrine? In the final section of this chapter I consider the persistence of these
    syncretic religious practices in the context of the results of the Maharashtrian
    State Assembly elections of 2014 and municipal elections in 2009-15.
    What role has Hindu nationalism played in these, given the long history of
    communal (or religious) politics in western India? Will the popular cults of
    Shirdi Sai Baba and Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari survive the increasing role
    of religious identity as a factor in the politics of Mumbai and Maharashtra?
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationIslam, Sufism and Everyday Politics of Belonging in South Asia
    EditorsDeepra Dandekar, Torsten Tschacher
    Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
    PublisherRoutledge
    Pages156-173
    Number of pages18
    Edition1st
    ISBN (Electronic)9781315693316
    ISBN (Print)9781138910683
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

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