Making Popular Culture

Julia M. Eckert

in The Charisma of Direct Action

Published in print March 2003 | ISBN: 9780195660449
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199082001 | DOI:
Making Popular Culture

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This chapter explores the party's relation to the urban tradition which it appropriates. In its direct ‘plebian’ connect, the Shiv Sena has constructed itself as the ‘natural’ representative of the ‘common man’ who is as virile as a Maratha, but full of pent up anger for the inadequacies of the system. Besides neighbourhood services, the Sena is also embedded in the cultural structures of a city like Mumbai. The well-liked organization of popular cultural and religious festivals by the Sena most expresses its success. In these, the Sena has successfully merged references to various ‘traditions’—urban traditions, Marathi traditions, Hindu traditions—all of which appeal to the common people’s desire to conquer the modernizing city. The author describes the Sena’s organization of the popular festival of Ganeshotsav in some detail. The author also describes how public representations of Bal Thakeray show him as a man of the people, whose language is full of jokes, puns and slang since he speaks straight from the heart. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the seductive connect between localness, involvement, and entertainment as being the main elements behind the Shiv Sena’s cultural populism, and how these can be connected to other power-related agendas.

Keywords: neighbourhood services; Shiv Sena; urban traditions; Marathi traditions; Hindu traditions; plebian connect; cultural populism; Ganeshotsav; Bal Thakeray; Mumbai; Modernizing city

Chapter.  6468 words. 

Subjects: Indian Politics

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