The long-term conflict in the Sikh community involving lower castes - predominantly, Ravidassias, chamar (cobblers/tanners) followers of the medieval saint Ravidas - and Jats boiled into an open confrontation after the Vienna incident (May 2009), when one of the Ravidassia leaders was killed by radical Sikhs in a local gurdwara. In 2010, Ravidassias launched their own religion - the Ravidassia Dharam, set up their own scripture - the Amritbani Satguru Ravidas Maharaj, and proclaimed the ultimate place of pilgrimage for the community - the Varanasi-based Ravidas Janamsthan Mandir that bears the name of Begumpura (a city without sorrow), a term used by Ravidas. Since then, various processions and marches from Jalandhar in Punjab to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh have become central in constructing the protest identity of Ravidassias. Regular pilgrimages (shobha yatras) cover three populous states of India, and the number of yatra participants has been increasing since 2010. Prominent politicians have successfully been using this opportunity to advertise their activities across North India. This paper focuses on the role of shobha yatras as a variety of pilgrimage or collective performative action (Freitag, 1989; Kaur, 2005; Brosius, 2006; Jaoul, 2007; etc.) that has been successfully used by Ravidassias in the community’s self-fashioning (Greenblatt, 2005).



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