This panel aims at exploring the production and dynamics of street-shrines in urban India. Through ethnographic work at specific shrines, each paper will contribute to describe and question the discourses and practices that form an important part of everyday religion in Indian cities.
Even while India remains largely rural, hundreds of millions of people live in cities and mega-cities across its territory. This massive urban concentration is accompanied by a number of social and material rearrangements and innovations that affect the lives of these city-dwellers. From the religious perspective, in the last twenty years or so, an increase in modern so-called "mega-temples" has become part of urban religiosity; as well as the emergence of charismatic movements featuring "mega-gurus" that attract millions of devotees in India and beyond. However the development of cities has also seen an increase of street shrines. Be they Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jain or shared between different faiths, these different roadside shrines have an ubiquitous presence in the cities of India, to the point that some of them surpass main temples, churches and mosques in popularity and patronage. However they differ from the latter main temples by the apparently informal nature of the practices and discourses that take place. The panel will investigate to what extent these shrines are important sites for the individual sense of belonging to particular localities and/or to particular communities. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in one specific site or on different connected sites, each paper will contribute to describe and question the discourses and practises at stake in what appears to be an important part of the everyday religion in Indian cities.