Saint lore of Tapāl Nākā: Meaning of architectural place as generated through belief narratives.

Aktiviteetti: Konferenssiesitelmä


This paper explores the performative generation and enrichment of the meaning of an architectural place through the belief in legends that permeate and configure it. We present a case of a market square called Tapāl Nākā, in a late medieval port town called Panvel which is now part of a suburb of Navi Mumbai. In the folklore of this densely populated mixed-use urban area, Sufi saints referred to as pīr mingle with the guardian spirits of Hindu traditions in its narrow lanes. They constrain and shape the latest round of development of the built environment through the respect they command and the fear they instil. The presence of pīrs dotting the urban and rural fabric of India is predominantly experienced through their legends. As the tales are heavily dependent on spatial associations they beg performative approaches for their analysis. Our attempt here is to first establish the memorates through narrative ethnography and then to analyse the legends in the oral tradition as part of the common knowledge in the community. In this effort, we want to decipher the role of the architectural place and its evolution through the spatial referencing of the lore. Here, at least six major religious communities reside together in a dense urban fabric. There are vague physical boundaries between them but almost no relational barriers. As part of our larger research on this particular place, we gathered life narratives from people and also analysed the architecture within which they lived. The shrines of the Sufi saints and the guardian spirits appear everywhere in both data-sets. Extracting the lore from the transcriptions of these narratives and through their spatial analysis we will attempt to establish the meaning of the ‘Place’ and its resonance with belief as found in the narratives.
Aikajakso7 helmik. 2019
PidettyGauhati University, Intia