Ritual Revision During a Crisis: The Case of Indian Religious Rituals During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Vikram Kapoor*, Russell W. Belk, Christina Goulding

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Rituals, particularly religious rituals, may play a significant role in times of crises. Often, these rituals undergo revision to adapt to the changing needs of the time. This article investigates recent unofficially revised Hindu religious rituals as performed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The multifarious creative interplay between Hindu tradition and change is illustrated through four cases: the religious festival of Durga Puja, the devotional songs or bhajans, the ritual of lighting lamps or diyas, and the fire rituals or havans. The authors offer a systematic discourse analysis of online news articles and YouTube posts that illuminate several aspects of ritual revision during unsettled times. They focus on the changes that were made to ritual elements: who controlled these alterations, how these modifications were made, and what potential benefits these revisions offered to the community of ritual participants. The authors highlight public policy implications regarding the involvement of diverse social actors, the creation of faith in science, the creation of feelings of unity and agency, and the amplification of local ritual modifications on a national scale.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-297
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Public Policy & Marketing
Volume41
Issue number3
Early online date4 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • religion
  • rituals
  • festivals
  • traditions
  • COVID-19
  • India

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