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Title: When horizons darken : the process and experience of religious conversion among Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in London
Author: Jebanesan, Albert Wilfred
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1999
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This work is an inquiry into the religious conversion from folk Hinduism into Pentecostal Christianity among Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in London. There is an estimated number of 35,000 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in London. Many of them have decided to 'change their religion' in their quest for a community. They have formed some 22 new All-Tamil Pentecostal congregations in London, with an overall attendance of some 3,000 every Sunday. The overwhelming majority of their members are Tamils from Sri Lanka, and most of them converted from their ancestral folk Hinduism into a variety of Pentecostal Christianity. Until the present time (July 1999), the language of communication and communion of the religious services was almost exclusively Tamil; there are now signs of English being gradually introduced in order to incorporate Tamil children who are becoming more fluent in English than in Tamil. There are indications that this trend towards bilingualism and biculturalism in the religious services will spread steadily in the future. The author begins his story in the integrated life of Sri Lankan Tamil villages before the war, continues with the sudden disintegration of family, temple and village, and describes the predicament of Tamil refugees in London, concluding with their incorporation into small Pentecostal communities. The analysis of the data yields important results, such as: a) conversion is first to a community, and through the community to God; b) there is little evidence that the converts have thoroughly repudiated their previous Hindu religiosity; c) the belief system of the converts is of the utmost simplicity, without reference to the official teaching from the pulpits; d) the common life and mutual affection play a much more important role than common beliefs; e) the event of conversion and the ongoing incorporation, belonging and participation in their respective closely knit religious communities have had a profound therapeutical effect that facilitates the transition from loneliness to communion, from meaninglessness to purpose in life, and from being helpless to becoming helpful, and so forth.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available