n Nidan : International Journal for Indian Studies - The spell of Indophilia in the imagination of South Africa

Volume 2 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1016-5320


Visual culture and its transformative academic agenda has received much attention in the past few years, particularly so in South Africa from a broad spectrum of study. The commodification of Hindu deities is seen as a means of popularising these images while at the same time stripping them of the fundamental value as accredited to them by Hindus. The commercial viability of the pious image against the chaos of contemporary society is positioned as a capitalists’ dream. This article will look at the challenges experienced by Indian Hindus within a multicultural and post-Mandela South Africa. It will engage with particular images and forms which seem to compromise and bring insult to religious representations of Hinduism in contemporary South Africa. Various community newspapers bring to the fore the question of artistic freedom in conjunction with the question of contemporary religious practices which are operating within the historiography of a complex South African landscape. The phenomenon of cultural migration bears witness to the process of objects/cultural forms moving from one country or place of residence to settle in another. In this process the contemporary religious market, where images of the Hindu religion are appropriated, becomes a contentious issue. This type of commodification brings with it a narcissistic tendency which links to the controversial notion that any form of religion or spirituality can be appropriated freely, especially if it is not your own.

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