April, 03, 2008 10:49 Age: 10 yrs
Walking with the Kanganam Bhais
Category: SSS News
On Friday, 27th October 2006 at lunchtime, Jonathan Prasad gave a seminar on Walking with the Kanganam Bhais: The Construction of South Indian Identity through Fire Rituals in Fiji.
Jonathan as Kanganam Bhai
Jonathan, a PhD student from Lancaster University, is currently affiliated with the Division of Sociology and Social Work while in Fiji on fieldwork. As part of his fieldwork, Jonathan took part in the rituals leading up to the firewalking at the Maha Mariamman Mandir in Suva.
While Fijians from Beqa practise firewalking across hot stones which is related to ideas of surviving being cooked in the lovo, descendants of Southern Indian indentured labourers practice a very different form of firewalking which involves piercing the body and walking across heated coals. Jonathan's seminar explored the way that this set of rituals has become central to Southern Indian identity in Fiji in response to notions of difference between Southern and Northern Indian cultures as they established themselves in Fiji.