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Re-Creating "India" Through Musical and Ritual Performances: Music and Religion of Diasporic Indians in Pittsburgh

Eguchi, Yuko (2008) Re-Creating "India" Through Musical and Ritual Performances: Music and Religion of Diasporic Indians in Pittsburgh. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In the suburbs of Pittsburgh, amidst former steel factories, grocery stores, hospitals, and country clubs, on a hillside overlooking Interstate 376 sits an impressive display of ancient Indian architecture: the Sri Venkateswara (SV) Temple, the oldest Hindu Temple constructed in the Penn Hills section of Pittsburgh in 1976. Although living on the opposite side of the globe, diasporic Indians in Pittsburgh reconstruct their home surroundings and rigidly follow the Indian religion, tradition, and culture - especially inside the SV Temple. In fact, the SV Temple is a small version of "India" itself; things that are experienced in daily life in India are reproduced and materialized by priests and devotees every day inside the temple. My fieldwork revealed that immigrant Indians often feel alienated from their host society. Rituals, music and dance concerts, lectures and language classes in the SV Temple provide not only psychological consolation for diasporic Indians, but helps to construct their identities as Indian. In Indian tradition, the boundary between sacred and secular is vague, and diasporic Indians usually express their Indian identities through performance. In this thesis, I focus on Indian-Americans' (especially Hindu Tamils) perceptions of religion and culture by examining musical performances during a ritual ceremony (Venkateswara Abishekam) and a children's Sunday school session based on fieldwork research conducted in 2006 and 2007. This thesis addresses the following question: What roles do ritual ceremonies and musical practices play in constructing notions of "India" in Pittsburgh? My findings reveal how essentialized notions of culture have become central to identity construction in diasporic communities. My point is not to present a monolithic view of Indian-Americans' perceptions regarding identity, but rather it is to use their individual perceptions of music and culture in order to understand the reality of Indian-American lives in the United States.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWeintraub, Andrew Nanwein@pitt.eduANWEIN
Committee MemberYung, Bellbyun@pitt.eduBYUN
Committee MemberClothey, Fred Wclothey@pitt.eduCLOTHEY
Committee MemberRosenblum, Mathewrosenblu@pitt.eduROSENBLU
Date: 4 June 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 4 April 2008
Approval Date: 4 June 2008
Submission Date: 21 April 2008
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Carnatic Song; Chant; Devotional Song (Bhajan); Diaspora and Music; Hinduism; Indian Diaspora; Ritual Ceremony; Sri Venkateswara Temple in Penn Hills
Other ID:, etd-04212008-235017
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:40
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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