A Trifle Strife?

Public Space, Rituals and Communalism

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This study investigates Bengaluru’s Chamarajpet Eidgah Maidan as a proxy of Hindu-Muslim religious communalism manifesting in public space. The maidan has been a ground of controversy since June 2022 due to a conflict over its use for (religious) ritual activities. The incumbent Hindu-nationalist BJP government fails to mediate such contestations of socio-religious public space between Hindu and Muslim groups. The main risk, among others, is an escalation of communal violence.
However, other major risks include the disenfranchisement of Chamarajpet Maidan’s everyday existence, and by extension, of its everyday stakeholders. A failure to understand these tensions will exacerbate the megacity’s existing infrastructural and social woes. This study explores how public space could address religious communalism. It has been found that, in addition to exploring the religious and ritual meanings of the maidan through analytical cartographies, an analysis of its ‘worldings’ - through media representations and physical-social realities - were invaluable to produce a countercartography of the maidan. These countercartographies were possible with reference to books, journal articles, news articles, historical maps, site observations and interviews. Public architecture could address religious communalism if the maidan’s religious conflict is addressed alongside its everyday social needs. A longterm view necessitates the integration of (unanticipated) stakeholder uses and clear governance for infrastructural resilience. Politicised religions, which normalise a Muslim versus Hindu antagonism, is becoming ever more rampant in India. To understand its spatial ramifications is a first step in addressing a nation-wide problem.