Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Lamont School of Music

First Advisor

Sarah Morelli

Second Advisor

Jack Sheinbaum

Third Advisor

Kristin Taavola

Fourth Advisor

Dean Saitta


Catholic, Identity, Indian, Karnatak, Music, Tamil


In this thesis, I argue that the music of the Catholic Church of South India, which draws from Indian and Western music genres, functions as a cultural bridge allowing the worshiper to express a distinctively Catholic identity without distancing themselves from their Hindu roots. This cultural connection reinterprets Karnatak musical styles, practices, and traditions as distinctively Catholic rather than Indian or Hindu. Thus, Indian cultures are recontextualized within a Catholic paradigm, as these practices are regarded as Catholic regardless of their historical, cultural, or religious origin. These identities, Indian and Catholic, are not in tension with one another, but instead, reinforce each other. This concept of identity formed through both international and local perspectives emerges as a primary motivation behind the use of local musics and other traditions within the Indian Catholic Church. Local parishes utilize Hindu practices, themes, and symbolism in ways that reinforce international Catholic identity.

Moreover, the historical or theological origins of these local practices do not overtly supersede or undermine their intended religious message. Rather than using these songs as a compromise between Catholic and Hindu beliefs and practices, the Catholic Church in India recognizes these practices to achieve an international Catholic identity using local traditions.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Johnathan Theodore Travis Rhodes


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

67 p.