Zach Garcia

Zach Garcia

It is clear that one strength of this community is their deeply interwoven connections to their religious ecologies. Therefore, part of the mission of the Indo-Caribbean Hindu environmental groups is to promote an understanding of the intimate sensibilities their community has for their cultural keystone places with natural resource managers and other communities who use the same space for recreation.

2018 Urban Fellow

Research Topic: Socio-cultural and Ecological Interactions

Faculty Advisor: Mary Evelyn Tucker

Indo-Caribbean Hindu Religious Ecologies in Queens, New York: Reinterpreting Environmental Stewardship through Spiritual Devotion

In this paper, we explore water worshipping traditions rooted within Indo-Caribbean Hindu cosmology in Queens, New York. Indo-Caribbean Hindu communities have established deep religious ecologies at Jamaica Bay in the middle of Gateway National Recreation Area. Hindu devotees[1] have been coming to these beaches to pray, perform puja (worship), seek guidance and truth, and bequeath sacred items for the deities at the Bay. Scattered along these beaches, sacred relics vary from fruits, diyas (small clay pots), saris (fabric), jhandi flags (a flag symbolizing a deity) and murthis (statutes) of Hindu gods and goddesses. The religious ecology for this community can be perceived as an ecology of environmental destruction (littering) for others. This situation gives way to the issue of performative deification of these items and environmental defilement of the natural setting. We discuss how individuals and organizations within the Indo-Caribbean Hindu community are attempting to transform and remodel worshipping practices by weaving spiritual vitality and environmental values.


[1] When the terms devotee or devotion are used, the concept and practice of bhakti is intended. Bhakti refers to the Hindu religious practice of a loving commitment to a manifestation of the unified divine in the material, phenomenal world.