Beyond exile

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Drawing on the themes of collective memory, cultural ideologies, and narrative constructions, this chapter proposes to examine the narrative of the Ramayana epic, its exegesis through performance, and its continued relevance to identity formation among Indo-Fijian Hindus both within Fiji and its Pacific Rim diaspora. Based on the recasting of the “twice-migrated” Indo-Fijian as the “twice-banished” by certain observers, we might expect the meaning of the Ramayana in the lives of Indo-Fijian Hindus in New Zealand to shift towards the theme of Rama’s exile, just as it did for the indentured laborers who made the original journey to Fiji. Nevertheless, while most Indo-Fijians share this sentiment, the Ramayana remains above all a vehicle for personal devotion to god and a guide to a morally centered life. In the context of displacement, the epic serves the devotee best as an anchor rather than a metaphor.


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