ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Deras as ‘Little Fiefdoms’

Understanding the Dera Sacha Sauda Phenomenon

The phenomenon of deras draws from the region’s social history and porosity of religious boundaries, where much of its reconfiguration and reconstitution has happened at the intersection of caste and religion.

The conviction and imprisonment of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS), in two 15-year-old rape cases unleashed a wave of violent protests and outrage by its followers in parts of Punjab and Haryana. However, as the can of worms spills over and skeletons continue to tumble out, it is the poignant images of hapless and poor women, men and children, being evacuated by the army from the Dera headquarters and other naam-charcha ghar or prayer halls of the Dera, that stay to haunt. How does one make sense of this tragic spectacle? The answer seemingly lies in the multiple sociocultural and economic narratives emanating from the region and the nest of rumours surrounding the DSS in Haryana.

The Dera Phenomenon and Caste

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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