Ganga-Jamni tehzib in Old Jaipur: Multireligiosity as a planning concept for 'sustainable cities' in India (14636)
Ganga-Jamni tehzib or the romantic notion of mutually cooperative and peaceful Hindu-Muslim relations has generated tremendously scholarly attention in India in recent times, especially in politics and anthropological critiques, though it has notably been neglected in urban studies. Notions like 'sustainable cities' or 'sustainable urban development' have however become significant development concepts for Indian planning. In this paper, I suggest that various categories of religion and religiosity - such as the Ganga-Jamni tehzib - must begin to inform the concept and practice of 'sustainable cities' in India, for the notion to be locally relevant. I examine popular understandings and narratives of the Ganga-Jamni tehzib and demonstrate that it impacts socio-spatial equity through positive and negative place associations for Hindus and Muslims in the old, walled city of Jaipur. I focus particularly on the place-enhancing qualities of the tehzib which become enhanced during times of peak religiosity when Hindus and Muslims engage in public celebrations of their respective festivals, often on overlapping days of the year, and through shared routes for religious processions.
For the urban planner, these aspects of public religion covers the three dimensions of place identity that Relph (1976: 61) considered to be among the vital ingredients of an urban planning framework: 'physical features or appearance, observable activities and functions, and meanings or symbols.' I suggest that a self-consciously positive and enabling sense of Ganga-Jamni tehzib is vital in the making of 'sustainable cities' in Jaipur and elsewhere in India for the following reasons: multireligious cities in India that encourage functional and interdependent spatial relations between diverse religious communities can be prosperous and safe urban environments. For secular, modern planning in India to be able to deliver the full scope of 'sustainable cities' or 'sustainable urban development', especially in its old and historic cities, engagement with religion must feature as a vital planning strategy.