Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Hindu Transnational Families: Transformation and Continuity in Diaspora Families

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Hindu Transnational Families: Transformation and Continuity in Diaspora Families

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The family is one of the essential elements in maintaining balance and social cohession in the diaspora. 3 Family ties emerge as cne of the fcundaticnal elarents in the transnational spectrum, through Wnich nerbers build their cultural references. Ballard has demonstrated the centrality of creating a chain system of migration in the rooting process of groups that originate from Asia to the UK, being the realm where reciprocity and kinship ties play a central role in the structuring process cf different cnnrunities (EoUard, 1594) . Qrcrmitantly Baurann (1998) proved that the family reunification process, thrcuji the progressive will of establishment and roctedness also changed the character of each South Asian group, which contradicts initial logics of mobilization that had the uncferlying intention of return to India.

Concerning the specific context of the Hindu diaspora, Aarious authors reaffirm the central contribution of the family in the perpetuation of Hinduism (McDonald, 1987; Michaelson, 1987). Ballard (1994) considers religion an essential element in the consolidation of Desh Pardesh, an expression used to cfescribe the process of construing social, cultural and spatial realities of the South-Asian diasporas in London. Baunann refers to the edification of Little Indias, undertaken by these populations, in which religion-Hinduism-is not only maintained but also transformed through processes of reinterpretation and reification (Baunarn, 1994).

Religion acts as a preferential device in the consolidation of the Hindu dispporic identity and simultaneously as a means of transformation and re-creation. Unlike Christianity or Islam, Hinduism assumes a strong association with a national territory, in the oenaethat virtually all Hindus are Indians (Vertovec, 2000) . The feeling of a bond with India in the form of spiritual reverence, of the great sacrechess attributed to religious locations and the geographyy itself, is enough to demonstrate the significance of India' s civilizational heritage in the consolidation of this diaspora.

Therefore it nates sense to speak of an extensive Hindu diaspora, corpcsed of groups with specific characteristics deriving either from their cultural and regional backgrounds within India itself (Gujarati or Ergati, fier exaople) , or from the specificities of UB countries in wnich they settle, vterety it is not the sane to speak of the Hindi Diaspora in the USA, in the UK or in Portugal. Even so, the unifying elerents are strong enough to avercene the internal differexes of the global Hindu diaspora.

Due to its adaptation to new social setting, diasporic Hinduism has been described as a shifting religion, indirkd in a transformation process that has been labeled as "new Hinduism" (Eck, 2000), "American Hinduism" (Eck, 2000; Kurien, 1998), "British Hinduism" (Knott, 1986) or "Ecumenical Hinduism" (Williams, 1995: 238) . The transfomation of traditions always results from processes of adjustment to the circumstances fcund in the new places of settlement. In view of this, individuals find the need to remember physically and geographically distant traditions so that they can later accept them to the new place of resicfexe, thus creating new traditions for themselves and their descendants (Williams, 1996).

The Hindu diaspora may also be viewed as being intinately related to a composite transnationalism framework. Despite its cultural specificities, Hindu transnaticnalism resembles other transnational contexts. In this seise, as in otter transnational contexts, the "second" and "third" migrant crrdition (Basch et al., 1994) of many Hindu cnmunities in the diaspora inplies the erergence and construction of networks of contacts and relations as "joint families," in which members frequently possess multiple rationalities. Technological develepments also play an inportant role concerning the intensification, of virtual communication as veil as periodical visits. …

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