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Two hundred kilometres west of Karachi, in the desert of Balochistan, is located the shrine of the Hindu Goddess, Hinglaj. Despite the temple’s ancient Hindu and Muslim history, an annual festival at Hinglaj has only been established within the last three decades, in part because of the construction of the Makran Coastal Highway. Now, an increasingly confident minority Hindu community has claimed Hinglaj as their main religious centre, a site for religious performance and expression.
In Hinglaj Devi, Jürgen Schaflechner studies literary sources in Hindi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, and Urdu alongside extensive ethnographical research at the shrine, examining the political and cultural influences at work at the temple and tracking the remote desert shrine’s rapid ascent to its current status as the most influential Hindu pilgrimage site in Pakistan. Schaflechner introduces the unique character of this place of pilgrimage and shows its modern importance not only for Hindus, but also for Muslims and Sindhi nationalists.
Jürgen Schaflechner, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Modern South Asian Languages and Literature, South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Germany.