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CHiTra Mela

January 21, 2017

The Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions (CHiTra),
The Department of Religion, and the Office of the Vice-President for
Research at the University of Florida present:

CHiTra Mela

Research and Pedagogy in South Asia and Global Hindu Traditions:

A Symposium for Faculty and Graduate Students in Florida

January 21, 2017 9:00AM-4:15PM

January 22, 2017 9:00AM-12:00PM

216 Anderson Hall, University of Florida


Saturday, January 21 Program:


9:00-9:15 am

Welcome by Vasudha Narayanan


9:15-10:30 am

Jonathan Edelmann, Chair

Gil Ben-Herut, Assistant Professor of South-Asian Religions, Department of Religious Studies, University of South Florida, “Religious Egalitarianism, Social Conservatism: Rethinking Early Kannada Śivabhakti with Harihara’s Śivaśaraṇara Ragaḷegaḷu.”

Prea Persaud and Priyanka Ramlakhan, Graduate Students, University of Florida, Department of Religion, “Hinduism in Trinidad: Beyond Indentureship.”

Albert Wuaku, Graduate Program Director and Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, FIU.  “Hinduism in Ghana.”


10:30-10:45 am  Coffee break



Priyanka Ramlakan, Chair

Steven Vose, Bhagwan Mahavir Assistant Professor of Jain Studies, and Director of the Jain Studies Program, Department of Religious Studies, Florida International University. “Rajacandra, the Modern Jain: Locating the Forces of ‘Modernity’ and ‘Tradition’ in a late Nineteenth-Century Jain Renegade.”

Iqbal Akhtar, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies, Florida International University, Visiting Fellow at Africa Studies Centre and International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden and Professeur Invité at l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales (IISMM), “The Khoja Chronicle of Light.”

Muthusami Kumaran, Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Management & Community Organizations Department of Family, Youth & Community Sciences, University of Florida, “The Anatomy of a Study Abroad Program in India.”


12:00-1:00   Lunch for symposium participants, 117 Anderson Hall


1:00-2:30 pm

Prea Persaud, Chair

Jonathan Edelmann, Assistant Professor of Religion, Department of Religion, University of Florida, and Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions, “Uncovering bhakti of karma, jñāna, and yoga in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition.”

Gopal Gupta, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Department of Philosophy, Florida Gulf Coast University, “The World as Illusion: Environmental Implications of the Doctrine of Māyā.”

Richard J. Batchelor, Graduate Student, Department of Religion, University of Florida, “The Beast and the East: Aleister Crowley, India, and the Cross-pollination of Esotericism.”


2:30-2:45 pm Coffee break


2:45-4:15 pm

Whitney Sanford, Chair

Roland Mullins, Graduate Student, Florida State University. “Vidya as Concept and Deity in Tantric Traditions.”

Sucheta Kanjilal, Graduate Student, Department of Religious Studies, University of South Florida, “Modern Mythologies: The Epic Imagination in Contemporary Indian literature (1977-2015).”

Dustin S. Hall, Graduate Student, University of Florida. Śiva in the Rāmacaritamānas.


Sunday, January 22 Program:


9:00 -10:45 am

Muthusami Kumaran, Chair

Deepa Nair, Assistant Professor, History, University of Central Florida. ‘The Other Side of Silence: Religion and Conflict in Indian Textbooks

Sarah Griswold, Graduate Student, Florida State University. Filmic Representations of Colonial India.”

Rodney Sebastian, Graduate Student, University of Florida, Department of Religion, “Religious Dance Dramas in Manipur: From Shamanistic rituals (in Lai Haraoba) to Bhakti-rasa (in Manipuri Rāsa-līlā)”

Kathleen Erndl, Associate Professor, Department of Religion, Florida State University.  “Goddesses, Women, and Star Persona in Bollywood Film.”


10:45-11:00 am Coffee Break


11:00 am -12:00 noon

Jonathan Edelmann, Moderator and Chair

Discussion on Graduate Student mentorship.  Discussion Leaders: Professor Steven Vose (FIU) and Gil Ben-Herut (USF).  We will conclude with a short discussion on future plans.


Other participants: George and Kausalya Hart, Professors Emeriti, University of California/ Berkeley, Whitney Sanford (Professor, UF), Vasudha Narayanan, (Distinguished Professor, UF), Josh McKinley (Graduate Student, UF), Madelyn P. Ramachandran and Michael Fiden (Graduate Students, USF), and Venu Mehta, (Graduate Student, FIU).


January 21, 2017