RAHN-THESIS-2022.pdf (2.77 MB)

Amplified Imagery: Trustworthy Projections of the Goddess from the Shree Mahalaxmi Darśan Livestream

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posted on 2022-12-01, 00:00 authored by Usha L Rahn
This thesis focuses on the darśan livestream provided by the Shree Mahalaxmi temple of Kolhapur within their temple website as a piece of media that allows the viewer to access the goddess and take darśan regardless of proximity to her temple. The key characteristics of this livestream is its near-constant availability, its residence within the publicly accessible space of the internet, and its refusal to prescribe ritual behavior beyond darśan. I see the combination of these qualities as unique to this format of livestream and as particularly useful for devotees or members of Kolhapur’s diaspora seeking connection to the goddess. The first half of this thesis focuses on the livestream’s relationship to the physical temple that hosts it. In order to understand how the livestream functions as a resource for ritual practice that is seemingly detached from yet tethered to the physical temple, I argue that the virtual space of the website and livestream center the significance of the physical temple while providing a novel view of the goddess’s icon. This novel view prevents the livestream from merely mimicking the act of visiting the temple and serves as a pathway for connection to the divine that undermines the limitations of time and distance between the viewer and the goddess. In the second half of this thesis, I compare the livestream to three examples of publicly accessible sacred places commonly found in Maharashtra: the wayside shrine, the contemporary monumental sculpture, and the mythological film. Through comparison with these similarly public spaces for darśan, I tease out the characteristics of the temple livestream that make it uniquely suited for use by devotees wishing to spend more time with Mahalaxmi.



Becker, Catherine


Becker, Catherine


Art History

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Masters

Degree name

MA, Master of Arts

Committee Member

Harmanşah, Ömür Ortega, Emmanuel

Submitted date

December 2022

Thesis type



  • en

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