Interviewee: Smriti Sekhar

 

1. What languages are spoken in this space?

So, the main language used here is Sanskritum but in this particular temple, it would be Tamil which is a very ancient language just like Sanskritum.

 

2. Does the language used in this space have religious significance?

Yes, yes it does.

 

3. What languages are used during religious ritual?

That would also be Sanskritum, which is Sanskrit in lay terms.

 

 

4. Would you say Tamil is the most commonly used language in other interactions?

In that particular community, yes

 

5. Is this inclusive of most people in the space?

No, as Hinduism comprises of many linguistic groups that span all of India and Sri Lanka. I am a Kannada speaking Hindu who visits that temple. I have Marathi speaking Hindu friends who visit that temple. Also, Punjabi speaking Hindus would also visit that temple.

 

6. Are there any linguistic expectations or pressures within the temple? For instance, any discomfort or animosity towards certain languages?

No, the priests and temple executive converse with anyone regardless of their linguistic background. There exists a certain discomfort toward North Indian Hindi or Punjabi speaking Hindus as their language is not widely understood or accepted by certain Indian or Sri Lankan Tamil speaking people

I don’t personally ascribe to the last opinion as I am a speaker of both a South Indian and North Indian language and accept both cultures equally in their own right.

 

7. What languages are used for social interactions in this space?

Social interactions, that would be based on the ethnicity of the person so they would be speaking in their own language. So, for example, when I visit the temple I would speak Kannada, which is my mother tongue. But other people can speak Telugu, South Indian languages, North Indian languages, it really depends on your ethnicity.

 

8. Do you or your community members switch between languages with in a conversation?

Yes, we do do that. It’s not to hide what we’re talking about, it’s more to keep the conversation interesting, just for a bit of fun in social interaction between people.

 

9. Can you give me an example of which two languages?

So I mix Hindi and Kannada, I just find it interesting the North and South combination.

 

10. Why are these non-English languages used?

It’s more to connect with the religious aspect. Because I find that when I’m speaking in my mother tongue I find that the correct syllables and sounds that come out of me relate to the religious significance of what I’m praying, so that’s why I use my mother tongue. If not that, then I can speak in English at a temple but I’ll just feel a little bit out of place.

 

11. What is the significance of having this language space or why is this community important?

The significance of having this language space is that it becomes a hub for the community. People come to the temple, they visit, they talk, they meet, they pray, they leave. So the temple becomes a community hub. It’s a confluence of culture.

 

12. Do you think the varieties of language used in this space encourage inclusivity or exclusivity (or both)?

See that’s a double-edged sword. Inclusivity in the sense that like how I mentioned it does become a confluence of cultures so different South Indian language people meet, different North Indian language people meet but exclusivity in that that is often the divide. Because traditions differ between the North and South, in the religious milieu, North Indians pray differently to South Indians, and South Indians do different traditions to North Indians so in that way it’s a bit different like that but at the end of the day it’s all one religion and we do encourage that this is a community hub.

 

 

13. Does this church offer language lessons?

I’m not sure but other temples of this type do.

 

Jenny Browne

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