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A Passage to India: Images of India in U.K/U.S Feature Films from 1930-2000
Unformatted Document Text:  A Passage to India Page 14 of 29 Student Paper around a murderous Indian religious cult called Thuggee. Thuggee are shown as worshippers of Kali, the Hindu Goddess associated with destruction and sorcery, who would kill to please her. In Gunga Din, the thuggee religious sect is introduced as “the most fiendish band of killers that ever existed” and a religious order honoring “Kali – the Goddess of blood.” Symbols related to black magic such as blood, skeletons, voodoo dolls and fire were used to portray Kali as an evil, terrible, powerful force who casts a spell on her followers. Other Indian religious practices depicted were sati, idol worship, cow worship, snake worship, tree worship and river worship. Magical spells, sorcery and witchcraft were depicted using symbols such as bloods, voodoo dolls, skulls and skeletons. Fire worship was exaggerated by the use of fire-torches, lamps, fire cauldrons and burning grounds for worship. Religion related persons and gods that were depicted were Kali, Krishna, Shiva, Buddha, holy saints in saffron robes–topknot–beard meditating under trees and priests in temples. Images of Hindu weddings, Hindu baby showers, Hindu funerals, dancing with incense/fire, doing “namaskar” gesture as prayer, golden temples and statues and chanting of Sanskrit Hindu hymns. Superstition regarding months of the year and the auspiciousness of seeing certain animals figured in some of the movies. Death rituals. In line with the depiction of India as wild and mysterious, the death rituals are also accordingly mystified. Death rituals took the form of human sacrifice (especially child sacrifice), animal sacrifice, sati, cult murder, and images of tombs, cenotaphs and burning funeral pyres. Such death rituals were much more likely to be depicted in India (3.6% of scenes, N=22) than in the Western countries (1% of the scenes, N=4), χ 2 (1, N = 1016) = 7.0, p < .01. Most often death sacrifices are shown as being

Authors: Ramasubramanian, Srividya.
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A Passage to India
Page 14 of 29
Student Paper
around a murderous Indian religious cult called Thuggee. Thuggee are shown as
worshippers of Kali, the Hindu Goddess associated with destruction and sorcery, who
would kill to please her. In Gunga Din, the thuggee religious sect is introduced as “the
most fiendish band of killers that ever existed” and a religious order honoring “Kali – the
Goddess of blood.” Symbols related to black magic such as blood, skeletons, voodoo
dolls and fire were used to portray Kali as an evil, terrible, powerful force who casts a
spell on her followers. Other Indian religious practices depicted were sati, idol worship,
cow worship, snake worship, tree worship and river worship. Magical spells, sorcery and
witchcraft were depicted using symbols such as bloods, voodoo dolls, skulls and
skeletons. Fire worship was exaggerated by the use of fire-torches, lamps, fire cauldrons
and burning grounds for worship. Religion related persons and gods that were depicted
were Kali, Krishna, Shiva, Buddha, holy saints in saffron robes–topknot–beard
meditating under trees and priests in temples. Images of Hindu weddings, Hindu baby
showers, Hindu funerals, dancing with incense/fire, doing “namaskar” gesture as prayer,
golden temples and statues and chanting of Sanskrit Hindu hymns. Superstition regarding
months of the year and the auspiciousness of seeing certain animals figured in some of
the movies.
Death rituals. In line with the depiction of India as wild and mysterious, the death
rituals are also accordingly mystified. Death rituals took the form of human sacrifice
(especially child sacrifice), animal sacrifice, sati, cult murder, and images of tombs,
cenotaphs and burning funeral pyres. Such death rituals were much more likely to be
depicted in India (3.6% of scenes, N=22) than in the Western countries (1% of the scenes,
N=4),
χ
2
(1, N = 1016) = 7.0, p
< .01. Most often death sacrifices are shown as being


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