The intermingling of modern Paganism/polytheism with Hinduism isn’t just happening from the Western side of the fence. Some Indians are adopting Wicca as a means towards progress and social reform within their country, the most visible example being activist Ipsita Roy Chakraverti. Chakraverti made international headlines last year for forming a Wiccan “brigade” to help curb witchcraft slayings in rural areas of India through education and outreach.
“People from different walks of life and even governments had asked me to institutionalize Wicca, but I was waiting for the right moment…Now is the time we stood up against people who persecute and kill innocent women…”
While I never saw any reports on how that program was progressing, it seems Chakraverti’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, and she has been tapped by the Indian government to head a panel dealing with the issue of female infanticide.
“Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, a Wiccan and social activist, has been nominated by the government’s National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) to head a panel tasked with improving the status of young girls, they said. Around 10 million girls have been killed by their parents over the last 20 years, the government says, as female infanticide and foeticide, although illegal, are still prevalent with boys preferred to girls as breadwinners … The Wiccan campaign has made inroads into several rural pockets across India and has helped raise awareness against victimising young women and girls as witches. Authorities expect that this influence could be expanded to promote the overall well-being of young girls.”
Chakraverti sees this as a “triumph” for Wicca in India, which she equates with the practice of Dakini or Yogini Vidya* (a tradition that invokes a great mother goddess and, according to Chakraverti, has many similarities with European Wicca). What is especially interesting is that Wicca is being introduced as a “cure” (of sorts) for patriarchal imbalances within their society, something practitioners of modern religious Witchcraft (from Starhawk to Doreen Valiente) have endorsed to one degree or another for years. How effective this cure will be remains to be seen, but it does pave the way for explosive growth of modern Paganism within India (and in an Indian context).
* Translated, “Yogini Vidya” means a powerful female practitioner/sorceress who worships the goddess as wisdom personified.