Despite the fact that it was a Portuguese colony until late 1961, having since then acquired the status of a union territory, the Indian island of Diu was culturally and religiously influenced and marked by its proximity to the neighbouring territory of Kathiawar (also known as the peninsular region of Saurashtra) located in the south of Gujarat state and forming part of the Arabian Sea coast. This circumstance helps to explain the reason why the Gujarati language was the dominant idiom on the island and Hinduism the prevalent religion. To this extent, the reproduction of cultural and religious practices among the Hindu population of the island include the use of various stylistic typologies of bhajan (devotional songs), with particular emphasis on the Kathiyawadi bhajan – a category of bhajan associated with expressive practices globally connoted with the territory of Gujarat, but particularly with the Kathiawar region. In addition to religious connotations, Kathiyawadi bhajan are also identified with lok geet (folk music) practices and envisions a dense interaction between devotional singing intercalated (in the beginning or in the middle of the performance) by poetic-musical forms, such as sakhi, doha, and chaand, traditionally composed and transmitted by bards and jati (caste/castes) of Gujarat musicians (e.g. Gadhvi, Charan, Bharot). Perhaps because of the lack of migratory history on the part of these jati of musicians, in the Hindu-Gujarati diaspora in Mozambique and in Portugal, Kathiyawadi bhajan are particularly practised and transmitted by musicians from Diu jati (although not limited to these). Based on archival research (including audio-visual archives) and on participant observation during multi-sited fieldwork in Lisbon, the state of Gujarat, and Diu island, this article explores the ambiguities related to the practices of representing the Kathiyawadi bhajan: on some occasions perceived as an archaic and potentially transgressive practice by some urban Gujarati groups, on other occasions discursively valued and praised when it comes to performing and representing the ‘authenticity’ and ancestrality of Gujarati culture in which the Diu jati represent the connection to the ‘true’ Gujarati folk, rural, and ancestral traditions.
|Number of pages||25|
|Journal||South Asian Studies|
|Publication status||Published - 2018|
- Indian Diaspora
- Kathiyawadi bhajan