Shia Ritual in a Sunni Setting: Muharram Observances in the Hill Station of Darjeeling, West Bengal

  • David Pinault


The Bagdogra-Darjeeling road begins in hot steamy flatland, flanked by bamboo thickets and banana fronds, but soon it rises and corkscrews among the hills. The vegetation changes: silver fir, rhododendron, maple, oak. From the window of my hired van I saw tea plantations with weathered placards bearing names like Longview and Margaret’s Hope. Women with baskets plucked tea shrubs and called to each other.


Hill Station National Liberation Front Good Intellect Hill People Votive Offering 
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  1. 1.
    Talbot Mundy, Om: The Secret of Ahbor Valley (New York: Avon Books, 1967), 25. This novel first appeared in 1924.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rumer Godden, Bengal Journey: A Story of the Part Played hy Women in the Province, 1939–1945 (Calcutta: Longmans, Green & Co., 1945), 103–04.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Arthur Jules Dash, Bengal District Gazetteers: Darjeeling (Alipore: Bengal Government Press, 1947), 57.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    L. S. S. O’Malley, Bengal District Gazetteers: Darjeeling (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, 1907), 215.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    P. Hardy, The Muslims of British India (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1972), 170–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 9.
    A. R. Saiyid, “Ideal and Reality in the Observance of Moharram: A Behavioural Interpretation,” in Imtiaz Ahmad, ed., Ritual and Religion Among Muslims in India (Delhi: Manohar Publishing, 1981), 114.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Ibid., 116.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Ibid., 116, 140.Google Scholar

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© David Pinault 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Pinault

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