Indigenous Modernity, Social Anthropology, Transforming Traditions, Urban Transformations, Urban Design Recommendations.
Modernity, as a process and not as an output, is a derivative of transformation. Transformations are different for diverse aspirations of its producers. Aspirations are negotiations between the needs and desires, and what can actually be achieved. Traditional beliefs and practices coexist, transform and sometimes depart from the original, as a result of aspirations of modernization and inspirations from the idea of modernity, to become modern. Since, a traditional urban community is deeply grounded in native tradition while becoming globally modern, an enquiry about how we are changing internally will lead us to the process of how we interpret and change modernity, thereby exploring various indigenous ways of becoming modern. Indigenous Modernity varies with different contexts and is a harmonious adaptation to contextual contemporary life. The cause for such transformations can be global but the effects will always be a derivative of indigenous reactions to modernity. In the city of Varanasi, the agents of modernity are spread across different periods, transforming the economic, social, and built fabric of the city. One can stretch the strands of transformations from the sacred core of the city (transformative layer of modernity, Kashi), to the outer periphery of the core (additive layer of modernity, Varanasi) and, sometimes to the trans-urban areas that grapple with global aspirations and new economic opportunities. This paper is based on a research aimed at discovering the transformations that have occurred under the forces of modernization within the physical fabric of Varanasi as well as within its society. Further, the study also looks at how sacred cities, the identity and intrinsic value of which are grounded in unassailable tradition, derive their ‘indigenous modernity’ to create a unique urbanism. An understanding will, thus, be made on modernity as something both deeply traditional and being constantly reinvented through contemporary practices and of the significant link between modernity and transformation as a key to understand the phenomenon of ‘indigenous modernity’. The study spans from typological level, to the Mohalla level and, to the city level, and finally recommends ways of sustainable indigenous modernization.
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