In this lecture I present and analyze procession and pilgrimage sites and rituals in the Hindu diasporas. These two forms of public rituals are related as processions are often part of festivals and the majority of pilgrims often arrive on the festivals’ main procession day. In the lecture I argue that one Hindu response to diaspora is to establish new sacred sites. In the diasporas Hindus continue the tradition of South Asian Hinduism of establishing new pilgrimage sites based on lives of sacred persons and visions, embodiments and other encounters with Hindu divinities. The paper argues that Hindus connect to space in a way that sacralize space wherever they live and that establishing new pilgrimage sites sanctions the new space as sacred and establishes an alternative or an additional sacred geography to those in their ancestral homelands.
Prof. Knut A. Jacobsen is Professor of the Study of Religion at the University of Bergen and specialises in the religions of India. He is also a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. He has published around 40 books as author or editor, and is the editor-in-chief of the landmark six-volume work Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Prof. Jacobsen obtained his PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1994, and has been professor at the University of Bergen since 1996. His main areas of research is the Hindu philosophical schools of Sāṃkhya and Yoga, especially in its classical forms but also exploring how these traditions survive in the modern world. In addition, he has also written extensively on the practice of pilgrimage in South Asia, and on the migration of South Asian religions, especially in Europe.