Dr Ann David (Principal Lecturer, Dance Department, University of Roehampton) will give a seminar, ‘Boundaries of the body: extreme bodily ritual practices in Tamil Hindu communities in Britain’ on Thursday November 10, 2011. Humanities Building, Cardiff University from 5.10 p.m. to 6.45 p.m. All welcome. Room 3.48, Humanities Building.
Extreme bodily ritual practices, an essential part of certain trajectories of Hindu worship, are now being seen in an innovative, refigured form in the UK. This paper looks at newly settled diasporic Tamil groups in Greater London where fire-walking, body piercing and walking on machetes are part of annual festival celebrations. How do these groups negotiate their public image in the face of such practices? Are these extreme acts in fact performances of faith, and does faith transcend experience of pain? In this paper I will examine religious public representation through performance of bodily ritual in the light of current theoretical debates relating to health, pain, migration and identity, and will seek to address the changing nature of British Hindu worship, evidenced as more and more groups establish their own particular ‘local’ practices and their own performances of identity.