Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 16

Search results for: secularism

16 Rethinking Political Secularism in Iranian Context: Intellectual Struggle in Post-Reformist Period

Authors: Alphan Telek

Abstract:

Political secularism is different from philosophical secularism in terms of its inclusionary, peaceful, liberal and democratic aspects. Secularism as a political principle not only takes the separation of state and religion as a basis but also it aims to exclude any kind of ethnic, religious, racial, gender domination at the state level. Thus, although political secularism does not see any problem with the visibility and implementation of religious views and symbols in the public sphere, it stands against the fusion of political power and religious views or more generally any kind of identity. Iranian context especially the post-reformist period, which starts in 2005, shows religious and/or reformist intellectuals try to put forward the political secularism and make it attractable to the large masses. Three prominent figures of reformist intellectualism Abdolkarim Soroush, Mohsen Kadivar and Akbar Ganji form the basic vocabulary of political secularism in the post-reformist period of Iran. Their intellectual and political struggle against the Islamic regime’s anti-democratic policies and actions do carry significance not only for Iranian democracy but also for all Muslim people around the world that demand a more equal, free, and just society. The political and intellectual discourses of Iranian intellectuals indicate that political secularism is a requirement of democratic state and society. In this paper, it is discussed the relationship between political secularism, state, society, and Islam. Thus, it will be argued that secularism as a political principle is increasingly held by Iranian intellectuals to show the relation between secularism and democracy.

Keywords: political secularism, Iranian intellectuals, democracy, Middle East

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15 Secularism and Political Inclusion: Turkey in the 2000s

Authors: Edgar Sar

Abstract:

For more than a decade, secularism’s compatibility with religion has been called into question. Particularly, secular states’ exclusionary practices were raised to prove that secularism is not necessary for democracy. Meanwhile, with the debut of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2002, Turkish state’s approach to religion has gradually changed. It is argued in that presentation that this change has led Turkey to a process of de-secularization, which refers to a considerable regress in state’s inclusionary and pluralist credentials. In this regard, this study both reflects on the relationship between secularism and democracy within the context of Turkish experience and analyses the consequences of the process of de-secularization of state in Turkey. To analyze Turkish state’s changing approach to religion and measure the de-secularization of the state, the connection between state and religion will be examined in three levels: ends, institutions, and law and policies. The presentation will indicate that Turkish state’s connection with religion in all three levels significantly weakened its secular credentials, which at the same time risked state’s commitment to neutrality, freedom of conscience and equality. In this regard, the change in Turkish state’s approach to religion throughout the 2000s, which this study refers to as the process of the de-secularization of the state, also brought about a process of de-democratization for Turkey.

Keywords: AKP, political inclusion, secularism, Turkey

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14 Debate, Discontent and National Identity in a Secular State

Authors: Man Bahadur Shahu

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The secularism is a controversial, debatable and misinterpreted issue since its endorsement in the 2007 constitution in Nepal. The unprecedented acts have been seen favoring and disfavoring against the secularism within the public domain—which creates the fallacies and suspicions in the rationalization and modernization process. This paper highlights three important points: first, the secularization suddenly ruptures the silence and institutional decline of religion within the state. Second, state effort on secularism simultaneously fosters the state neutrality and state separation from religious institutions that amplify the recognition of all religious groups through the equal treatment in their festivity, rituals, and practices. Third, no state would completely secular because of their deep-rooted mindset and disposition with their own religious faiths and beliefs that largely enhance intergroup conflict, dispute, riot and turbulence in post-secular period in the name of proselytizing and conversion.

Keywords: conflict, proselytizing, religion, secular

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13 Shifting Paradigms of Culture: Rise of Secular Sensibility in Indian Literature

Authors: Nidhi Chouhan

Abstract:

Burgeoning demand of ‘Secularism’ has shaken the pillars of cultural studies in the contemporary literature. The perplexity of the culturally estranged term ‘secular’ gives rise to temporal ideologies across the world. Hence, it is high time to scan this concept in the context of Indian lifestyle which is a blend of assimilated cultures woven in multiple religious fabrics. The infliction of such secular taste is depicted in literary productions like ‘Satanic Verses’ and ‘An Area of Darkness’. The paper conceptually makes a cross-cultural analysis of anti-religious Indian literary texts, assessing its revitalization in current times. Further, this paper studies the increasing popularity of secular sensibility in the contemporary times. The mushrooming elements of secularism such as abstraction, spirituality, liberation, individualism give rise to a seemingly newer idea i.e. ‘Plurality’ making the literature highly hybrid. This approach has been used to study Indian modernity reflected in its literature. Seminal works of stalwarts are used to understand the consequence of this cultural synthesis. Conclusively, this theoretical research inspects the efficiency of secular culture, intertwined with internal coherence and throws light on the plurality of texts in Indian literature.

Keywords: culture, indian, literature, plurality, secular, secularism

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12 Sociology of Vis and Ramin

Authors: Farzane Yusef Ghanbari

Abstract:

A sociological analysis on the ancient poetry of Vis and Ramin reveals important points about the political, cultural, and social conditions of the Iranian ancient history. The reciprocal relationship between the effect and structure of society helps the understanding and interpretation of the work. Therefore, informed by the Goldman genetic structuralism and through a glance at social epistemology, this study attempts to explain the role of spell in shaping the social knowledge of ancient people. The results suggest that due to the lack of a central government, and secularism in politics and freedom of speech and opinion, such romantic stories as Vis and Ramin, with a focal female character, has emerged.

Keywords: persian literature, Vis and Ramin, sociology, developmental structuralism

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11 Turkey at the End of the Second Decade of the 21st Century: A Secular or Religious Country?

Authors: Francesco Pisano

Abstract:

Islam has been an important topic in Turkey’s institutional identity. Since the dawn of the Turkish Republic, at the end of the First World War, the new Turkish leadership was urged to deal with the religious heritage of the Sultanate. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s first President, led the country in a process of internal change, substantially modifying not merely the democratic stance of it, but also the way politics was addressing the Muslim faith. Islam was banned from the public sector of the society and was drastically marginalized to the mere private sphere of citizens’ lives. Headscarves were banned from institutional buildings together with any other religious practice, while the country was proceeding down a path of secularism and Westernization. This issue is demonstrated by the fact that even a new elected Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was initially barred from taking the institutional position, because of allegations that he had read a religious text while campaigning. Over the years, thanks to this initial internal shift, Turkey has often been seen by Western partners as one of the few countries that had managed to find a perfect balance between a democratic stance and an Islamic inherent nature. In the early 2000s, this led many academics to believe that Ankara could eventually have become the next European capital. Since then, the internal and external landscape of Turkey has drastically changed. Today, religion has returned to be an important point of reference for Turkish politics, considering also the failure of the European negotiations and the always more unstable external environment of the country. This paper wants to address this issue, looking at the important role religion has covered in the Turkish society and the way it has been politicized since the early years of the Republic. It will evolve from a more theoretical debate on secularism and the path of political westernization of Turkey under Ataturk’s rule to a more practical analysis of today’s situation, passing through the failure of Ankara’s accession into the EU and the current tense political relation with its traditional NATO allies. The final objective of this research, therefore, is not to offer a meticulous opinion on Turkey’s current international stance. This issue will be left entirely to the personal consideration of the reader. Rather, it will supplement the existing literature with a comprehensive and more structured analysis on the role Islam has played on Turkish politics since the early 1920s up until the political domestic revolution of the early 2000s, after the first electoral win of the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Keywords: democracy, Islam, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey

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10 The Philosophical Basis of Democracy: An Islamic Perspective

Authors: Fahimeh Hooshyar, Seyyed Mojtaba Abtahi

Abstract:

Democracy which is, in its greek roots, consisted of “Demo” (People) and “Kratic” (people) is referring to governing of the people or governing by the people. in its widest definition it refers to a common lifestyle in which all the people has the equal potentials for social participating. But in political perspective, democracy is looking for the equal participation right of the citizens in political decision-making process. in this viewpoint, the democracy is solely a political construct or a social-political style in which all the values are relative. In this definition of the democracy emphasis is on equality of the people based on the governing rule and the natural social and political rights of every member of humankind. This notion of democracy by no means is a self reliant idea and the need of an ideological basis for approaching to this idea is inevitable. In this paper we are trying to define the inter-relations of democracy and its philosophical basis to Islamic fundamental ideas. Our approach to this topic would be a philosophical ideological one.

Keywords: Islam, democracy, democracy’s philosophical basis, secularism, fundamentalism

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9 The Influence of Social Media to Trends Design at Restaurant in Urban Area of Yogyakarta Province, Indonesia

Authors: Suparwoko, M. Hardyan Prastyanto, Aisah Azhari Marwangi

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Today, we face with some paradoxical tendencies. In the field of culture, on the one hand, we are witnessing the emergence of ethnic and religious fervor that is becoming stronger, but on the other hand, we are also witnessing a new ideology that characterized the flow of transnationalism, globalism, and secularism. Through social media, the globalization movement is accommodated to spread all over the world. Globalization also requires the commercialization of many fields, including architecture. In the architecture of commercial buildings, the appeal of the building is an important aspect for the function of the building. That theory is the basis for research of this study. This study aimed to know the influence of social media on the changing trends in the design of restaurant in urban areas of Yogyakarta Province. This study is using observation (survey) method to restaurants in Yogyakarta and surrounding areas to collect data, then the assessment of data by using the theory of the social media Path and Instagram that provide trend information from interior and building facades of the restaurant. By using social media Path and Instagram based survey methods, it can be seen that the intensity of social media users who publish or promote restaurant that has been chosen. Generally, conventional character of the restaurant have changed into a material and visually conceptual restaurant.

Keywords: influence, social media, changes, architecture trend

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8 The Rise of Populist Right-Wing Parties in Western Europe: A Case Study of the Front National in France

Authors: Jessica Da Silva

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This paper examines France as a microcosm of the rise of right-wing populism in the broader European context. The attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper is arguably, a reaction to the aggressive European secularism spreading throughout Europe that sees its true enemy in the growth of extremist and violent interpretations of Islam. With each terrorist attack, the popularity of anti-immigrant policies and ideologies increases. What ultimately drives movements like the French National Front are the concepts of monoculture and ethnic identity. This paper analyses the character of right-wing populist parties using the National Front as a case study. Such parties generate anxiety and resentment by fomenting an irrational fear of the ‘other’. In this way, populists promote their identity on the basis of xenophobia, Islamophobia, and practices of social exclusion against targeted out-groups. They position immigrants and foreigners as ‘others’, claiming they are a threat to native cultures and a source of social and economic strife. Ultimately, right-wing populism exerts a negative influence over the democratic framework in Europe and opposes the European Union’s integration project. Right-wing populism attacks this supranational model because of its alleged inefficiency and departure from what it considers to be 'authentic' European traditions and citizenship. In this context, understanding the rise of radical right-wing populist parties is extremely important for the future of Europe, democracy and multiculturalism.

Keywords: cultural identity, Europeanization, front national, immigration, integration, Islamophobia, multiculturalism, nationalism, right-wing populist parties, xenophobia

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7 Hijabs, Burqas and Burqinis: Freedom of Religious Expression In The French Public Sphere

Authors: John Tate

Abstract:

In 2004, the French Parliament banned the “hijab” in public schools, and in 2010 it prohibited the “burqa” and “niqab” in “public places.” The result was a “secular” outcome involving the removal of these garments, often identified with Islamic religious and cultural practice, from the French public sphere. Yet in 2016, the French local council bans on the “burqini” were overruled by France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’État, allowing for their retention in the public sphere. Unlike the burqa and hijab bans, the burqini bans produced significant divisions at the highest echelons of the French political class, with the Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, and the President, François Hollande, finding themselves at odds on the issue. This article seeks to achieve four aims. It seeks to (a) explain the contrary outcomes between key French state institutions, such as the Conseil d’État and the French Parliament, concerning the hijab and burqa bans, and the Conseil d’État and French local councils, concerning the burqini bans; (b) to do so by identifying two qualitatively distinct, and at times incompatible, conceptions of laïcité, present within official French public discourse, and applied by these French state institutions to underwrite these respective outcomes; (c) explain why, given these contrary conceptions of laïcité, and these contrary outcomes, the widespread identification of laïcité with “secularism” is both misleading and inaccurate; and (d) provide an explanation why senior members of the French political class were divided on the burqini bans when they were not divided on the nation-wide prohibitions of the hijab in public schools and the burqa in public places. In regard to this last question, the article seeks to ask why the Burqini was “different”?

Keywords: liberalism, republicanism, laïcité, citizenship

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6 Ajmer Dargah: Sustaining the Identity of a Religious Precinct

Authors: Vinod Chovvayil Panengal

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The idea of secularism in India has taken a different direction after independence when religion became a reason for a great divide in, otherwise harmonious society. Since then the religious spaces became protected and more sacred and not shared. However, there is a larger threat on beliefs, rituals, and the spirituality of these religions in the form of technology, tourism and globalization. In a way, they weaken the importance of religion from our society over a period of time. The importance of religion to a sense of place has been overlooked or diminished. Religion provides symbolic meaning to places which distinguishes certain physical environments from otherwise similar ones. The rapid transformation of urban spaces, eliminating the territorial differences of sense, spirit and identity have started creating urban centers rooting out this genre of unique urban spaces from our cities. Indian cities, with a strong identity created by rich and colorful overlays of culture through its evolution, have been threatened by this de-territorialization. This paper enquires the relationship of the symbol of the identity and religiosity of a place, through spatial form, rituals and activity, and accommodating the technology and the changing social structure within the bounds of that relationship. The subjects for this enquiry are Sufism and the Sufi city- Ajmer. The internal transformations in the ideologies of Islam and Sufism and the changes in the society surround it triggered the phenomena of de- territorialization. The need for establishing a symbiotic relationship between the spiritual content and the social life, through the manifestation of space, time and activity derived from this concern on abated territory of Sufism inside the city. Redirecting transformation catalyst such as tourism, technology, etc, towards the improvement of physical and social conditions, preservation of the heritage and the expansion of the notional idea of religion over the city will help to re- territorialize city as a Sufi city.

Keywords: sense of place, religion, Islam, identity

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5 Religion versus Secularism on Women’s Liberation: The Question of Women Liberation and Modern Education

Authors: Kinda AlSamara

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The nineteenth century was characterized by major educational reforms in the Arab World. One of the unintended outcomes of colonization in Arab countries was the initiation of women liberation as well as the introduction of modern education and its application in sensitizing people on the rights of women and their liberation. The reforms were often attributed to various undercurrents that took place at different levels within the Ottoman Empire, and particularly the arrival and influence of the Christian missionaries were supported by the American and European governments. These trends were also significantly attributed to the increase in the presence of Europeans in the region, as well as the introduction of secular ideas and approaches related to the meaning of modernity. Using literary analysis as a method, this paper examines the role of an important male figure like the political activist and writer Qāsim Amīn and the religious reformer Muḥammad ʻAbduh in starting this discourse and shows their impact on the emancipation of women movement (Taḥrīr), and how later women led the movement with their published work. This paper explores Arab Salons and the initiation of women’s literary circles. Women from wealthy families in Egypt and Syria who had studied in Europe or interacted with European counterparts began these circles. These salons acted as central locations where people could meet and hold discussions on political, social, and literary trends as they happened each day. The paper concludes with a discussion of current debates between the Islamist and the secularist branches of the movement today. While the Islamists believe that adhering to the core of Islam with some of its contested position on women is a modern ideology of liberation that fits the current culture of modern time Egypt; the secularists argue that the influence that Islam has on the women’s liberation movement in Egypt has been a threat to the natural success and progress of the movement, which was initiated in the early nineteenth century independent of the more recent trends towards religiosity in the country.

Keywords: educational model, crisis of terminologies, Arab awakening, nineteenth century

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4 Mindfulness in a Secular Age: Framing and Contextualising the Conversation in the Irish Context

Authors: Thomas P. Carroll

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The phenomenon of mindfulness has become ever more popular in an increasingly pluralist Western society. Mindfulness practice has penetrated secular contexts that would otherwise be closed to religious influence, including state schools, hospitals, and commerce. The contemporary understanding of mindfulness has its origins in Buddhist meditation. However, since Jon Kabat-Zinn’s pioneering work in Mindfulness-Based Interventions, the concept has developed and sometimes mutated into various forms of practice which are disembedded from their original spiritual philosophy. This project will explore the spiritual climate within which mindfulness is currently flourishing through dialogue with three interlocutors. The first interlocutor is the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor whose seminal work, ‘A Secular Age’, outlines three distinct modes of secularity. Taylor examines how the conditions of belief have changed and how the self seeks meaning in an age where belief in the divine is no longer axiomatic. The next interlocutor is Czech theologian and psychotherapist Tomáš Halík who offers a unique perspective of a Catholic who belongs to a section of society outnumbered by secular counterparts, with a theological hermeneutic best described as 'Den Fremden verstehen- understanding the stranger'. Finally, Irish theologian Michael Paul Gallagher offers a theological perspective on how the Christian faith can be translated into dialogue with Irish secular culture, as well as addressing the crisis of imagination and culture rather than the crisis of faith in Ireland. These interlocutors will illustrate that there are sometimes striking differences in how to interpret the religious signs of the times. However, these approaches also reveal significant similarities in how they address and explore the meaning of religious belief and experience today. In this way, themes will emerge that will help to frame the conversation about mindfulness in the West. These themes will include; the failure of the secularization thesis to pass, the growth of a diverse marketplace of religions and beliefs and the growth of a demographic who identify as spiritual but not religious. Such research is paramount in enabling a richer dialogue between Christian faith and mindfulness in a fragmented, postmodern Western context.

Keywords: culture, mindfulness, secularism, spirituality

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3 Keeping Education Non-Confessional While Teaching Children about Religion

Authors: Tünde Puskás, Anita Andersson

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This study is part of a research project about whether religion is considered as part of Swedish cultural heritage in Swedish preschools. Our aim in this paper is to explore how a Swedish preschool balance between keeping the education non-confessional and at the same time teaching children about a particular tradition, Easter.The paper explores how in a Swedish preschool with a religious profile teachers balance between keeping education non-confessional and teaching about a tradition with religious roots. The point of departure for the theoretical frame of our study is that practical considerations in pedagogical situations are inherently dilemmatic. The dilemmas that are of interest for our study evolve around formalized, intellectual ideologies, such us multiculturalism and secularism that have an impact on everyday practice. Educational dilemmas may also arise in the intersections of the formalized ideology of non-confessionalism, prescribed in policy documents and the common sense understandings of what is included in what is understood as Swedish cultural heritage. In this paper, religion is treated as a human worldview that, similarly to secular ideologies, can be understood as a system of thought. We make use of Ninian Smart's theoretical framework according to which in modern Western world religious and secular ideologies, as human worldviews, can be studied from the same analytical framework. In order to be able to study the distinctive character of human worldviews Smart introduced a multi-dimensional model within which the different dimensions interact with each other in various ways and to different degrees. The data for this paper is drawn from fieldwork carried out in 2015-2016 in the form of video ethnography. The empirical material chosen consists of a video recording of a specific activity during which the preschool group took part in an Easter play performed in the local church. The analysis shows that the policy of non-confessionalism together with the idea that teaching covering religious issues must be purely informational leads in everyday practice to dilemmas about what is considered religious. At the same time what the adults actually do with religion fulfills six of seven dimensions common to religious traditions as outlined by Smart. What we can also conclude from the analysis is that whether it is religion or a cultural tradition that is thought through the performance the children watched in the church depends on how the concept of religion is defined. The analysis shows that the characters of the performance themselves understood religion as the doctrine of Jesus' resurrection from the dead. This narrow understanding of religion enabled them indirectly to teach about the traditions and narratives surrounding Easter while avoiding teaching religion as a belief system.

Keywords: non-confessional education, preschool, religion, tradition

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2 Complicity of Religion in Legalizing Corruption: Perspective from an Emerging Economy

Authors: S. Opadere Olaolu

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Religion, as a belief-system, has been with humanity for a long time. It has been recognised to impact the lives of individuals, groups, and communities that hold it dear. Whether the impact is regarded as positive or not depends on the assessor. Thus, for reasons of likely subjectiveness, possible irrationality, and even outright deliberate abuse, most emerging economies seek to follow the pattern of separating the State from religion; yet it is certain that the influence of religion on the State is incontrovertible. Corruption, on the other hand, though difficult to define in precise terms, is clearly perceptible. It could manifest in very diverse ways, including the abuse of a position of trust for the gain of an individual, or of a group with shared ulterior motive. Religion has been perceived, among others, as a means to societal stability, marital stability, infusion of moral rectitude, and conscience with regards to right and wrong. In time past, credible and dependable characters reposed largely and almost exclusively with those bearing deep religious conviction. Even in the political circle, it was thought that the involvement of those committed to religion would bring about positive changes, for the benefit of the society at large. On the contrary, in recent times, religion has failed in these lofty expectations. The level of corruption in most developing economies, and the increase of religion seem to be advancing pari passu. For instance, religion has encroached into political space, and vice versa, without any differentiable posture to the issue of corruption. Worse still, religion appears to be aiding and abetting corruption, overtly and/or covertly. Therefore, this discourse examined from the Nigerian perspective—as a developing economy—, and from a multidisciplinary stand-point of Law and Religion, the issue of religion; secularism; corruption; romance of religion and politics; inability of religion to exemplify moral rectitude; indulgence of corruption by religion; and the need to keep religion in private sphere, with proper checks. The study employed primary and secondary sources of information. The primary sources included the Constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended; judicial decisions; and the Bible. The secondary sources comprised of information from books, journals, newspapers, magazines and Internet documents. Data obtained from these sources were subjected to content analysis. Findings of this study include the breach of constitutional provisions to keep religion out of State affairs; failure of religion to curb corruption; outright indulgence of corruption by religion; and religion having become a political tool. In conclusion, it is considered apposite still to keep the State out of religion, and to seek enforcement of the constitutional provisions in this respect. The stamp of legality placed on overt and covert corruption by religion should be removed by all means.

Keywords: corruption, complicity, legalizing, religion

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1 Sattriya: Its Transformation as a Principal Medium of Preaching Vaishnava Religion to Performing Art

Authors: Smita Lahkar

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Sattriya, the youngest of the eight principal Classical Indian dance traditions, has undergone too many changes and modifications to arrive at its present stage of performing art form extracting itself from age-old religious confinement. Although some of the other traditions have been revived in the recent past, Sattriya has a living tradition since its inception in the 15th century by Srimanta Sankardeva, the great Vaishnavite saint, poet, playwright, lyricist, painter, singer and dancer of Assam, a primary north-eastern state of India. This living dance tradition from the Sattras, the Vaishnavite monasteries, has been practiced for over five hundred years by celibate male monks, as a powerful medium for propagating the Vaishnava religious faith. Sankardeva realised the potential of the vocalised word integrated with the visual image as a powerful medium of expression and communication. So he used this principal medium for propagating his newly found message of devotion among the people of his time. Earlier, Sattriya was performed by male monks alone in monasteries (Sattras) as a part of daily rituals. The females were not even allowed to learn this art form. But, in present time, Sattriya has come out from the Sattras to proscenium stage, performed mostly by female as well as few male dancers also. The technique of performing movements, costumes, ornaments, music and style of performance too have experienced too many changes and modifications. For example, earlier and even today in Sattra, the ‘Pataka’ hand gesture is depicted in conformity with the original context (religious) of creation of the dance form. But, today stage-performers prefer the instructions of the scripture ‘Srihastamuktavali’ and depict the ‘Pataka’ in a sophisticated manner affecting decontextualisation to a certain extent. This adds aesthetic beauty to the dance form as an art distancing it from its context of being a vehicle for propagating Vaishnava religion. The Sattriya dance today stands at the crossroads of past and future, tradition and modernity, devotion and display, spirituality and secularism. The traditional exponents trained under the tutelage of Sattra maestros and imbibing a devotionally inspired rigour of the religion, try to retain the traditional nuances; while the young artists being trained outside the monasteries are more interested in taking up the discipline purely from the perspective of ‘performing arts’ bereft of the philosophy of religion or its sacred associations. Hence, this paper will be an endeavor to establish the hypothesis that the Sattriya, whose origin was for propagating Vaishnava faith, has now entered the world of performing arts with highly aesthetical components. And as a transformed art form, Sattriya may be expected to carve a niche in world dance arena. This will be done with the help of historical evidences, observations from the recorded past and expert rendezvous.

Keywords: dance, performing art, religion, Sattriya

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