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Hindus' Evaluations of Hindus and Muslims: Religious Leaders and Pilgrims at the Magh Mela

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Two studies examined religious and political predictors of Hindus' attitudes toward Hindus and Muslims. In the first study, data came from interviews with 311 leaders of religious groups encamped at the Magh Mela, an annual religious gathering held at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in northern India. Results indicated that most of the indicators of religious involvement were positively related to favoritism of the ingroup (Hindus) rather than devaluation of the outgroup (Muslims). In contrast, affiliation with the Hindu-nationalist political party (Bharatiya Janata Party) was related to devaluation of Muslims rather than favoritism of Hindus. In the second study, which involved interviews with 107 kalpavasis (pilgrims) who visited a subsequent Mela, results indicated, consistent with the first study, that religious beliefs were positively related to favoritism of Hindus. A religious behavior, frequency of worship, was related to negative evaluations of Muslims. Overall, religious leaders and kalpavasis did not differ in their ratings of Muslims, but, congruent with the notion that the more strongly one identifies with the ingroup, the more impact it will have, religious leaders evaluated Hindus significantly more positively than did kalpavasis.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology Pennsylvania State University 2: Department of Psychology University of Allahabad

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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