This paper examines the series of events that took place in July 2007 leading to the slaughter of Shambo, a ‘temple’ bull belonging to a community of monks at Skanda Vale in rural West Wales. The main focus in this paper is the transformation of Skanda Vale from a quiet ‘multi-faith’ devotional community in a remote part of the country, to a politically engaged ‘Hindu’ organisation at the centre of an international media storm surrounding the killing of Shambo. By examining the meanings and symbols brought into play by the contesting groups, as well as the different levels of conflict, this paper will examine the constructions of Hindu identity that emerged in media representations as a result of this controversy.
Maya Warrier is lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Wales, Lampeter. Her publications include Hindu Selves in the Modern World: Guru Faith in the Mata Amritanandamayi Mission and Theology and Religious Studies: An Exploration of Disciplinary Boundaries, as well as book chapters and journal articles. She researches transnational Hinduism with a focus on transnational guru movements, Yoga and Ayurveda in the West, and the Hindu diaspora in Britain. She is currently working on a research project funded by the Wellcome Trust which explores the development of Ayurveda in Britain.