ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Yadadri: A Temple and Global Corporation for Telugu Hinduism in the 21st century


Mathew Nisha - Mahindra University, School of Law, Hyderabad, India


28 – South Asian sacred spots: Nodal Points in Webs of Connections


Overseen by the provincial government, Yadadri, a temple township sprawling over a thousand acres and linking an entire conurbation of towns, cities, and temples is emerging in Hyderabad—a globally connected IT powerhouse with a widespread and highly influential diaspora, in Telangana, South India. The paper, a case study of Yadadri, is an inquiry into how local Hindu temples, primarily seen as medieval institutions legitimizing an archaic caste-based social and political order, have morphed into 21st-century global corporations with the power to funnel capital, technology, and labor, as well as forge new urban spaces out of remote hamlets. Portraying the transition as taking place under the aegis of the Telugu diaspora based in the US and UK, who see Yadadri as a monument to their ethnic and cultural identity, it reveals how the temple acts as a center of gravity for migration, particularly of software professionals from Telangana to the US, and investment mainly by multinational corporations such as Microsoft and Google in the reverse direction. These temple-centric flows, the paper argues, have visibly reconfigured the state in Telangana as not merely a Telugu state with its own global diasporic networks, but as a champion of a regional Hinduism that is at odds with the Hinduism celebrated by the right-wing federal government in Delhi.