Religious Divergence and Ethnic Syncretism: Transitions in Kali Mai Worship in Postcolonial Trinidad

Mansi Bose


Abstract: Religion is a dynamic identity that goes through ethnic and religious negotiation in a society. The indigenous religious traditions of the girmitiya community in Caribbean colonies are the results of decades of cultural mutation. The Kali Mai tradition of Trinidad is one such religious practice of migrated Hindus that went through years of questioning by the European missionary as they considered it a practice of paganism. The Kali Mai worship in the Hindu colony of Trinidad is an amalgamation of varied indigenous folk and religious cultures. The colonial practice of creating the hegemonic order has pushed Mother Kali to fall from grace as her worship became embarrassing and fearful for the respectable Indians. This paper emphasises on permutations in traditional paraphernalia, variation in the practice of ecstatic manifestation, re-identification and re-definition of deities, and reformulation of older practices of Kali Mai worship that raises the question of religious syncretism.


religion; Trinidad; Kali Mai; tradition

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