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Beloit College

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples

Abstract

This study investigates the evolution of a religious identity that stems from the broader identity of “migrant tea worker” on tea plantations in the hill areas of Darjeeling, West Bengal, India in November of 2012. The study was conducted in the villages of three tea gardens in the Darjeeling Himalaya: Singla valley on the North Tukvar Tea Estate, Mineral Springs, and Liza Hill Tea Plantations. Religion is present in the lives of all inhabitants of the Darjeeling Hill areas and has a long and complex history with migration that has resulted in an undocumented and always evolving group of religious identities. This study presents these religious identities and attempts to track how they have changed and evolved by documenting observed individual and communal religious practices and conversion. The study largely focuses on the influence of Christianity in these villages, noting how it came into the areas, why and different stories and possible reasons for conversion. The study utilizes Peter Connolly‟s three-dimensional framework for the study of religion to try and represent, interpret, and compare different religious practices in different locations to ultimately expose the way religious identities have changed over time.

Disciplines

Social and Cultural Anthropology

 

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