Folk Beliefs about Spiritual Power and Hinduism in Ghana
Shiva and Krishna, icons of Hindu spirituality currently involved in a global circulation of ideas, images, and people, are establishing homes in the religious fields of Ghana and her neighbors in West Africa. They are also garnering appeal among local worshippers. In Ghana, the general socio-economic and political context of the growing attention being given these two Hindu gods is a thorough globalizing process. This is characterized by the drying up of sources of wealth and certainty, high unemployment, and impoverishment. Because Ghanaians mostly experience mishaps as manifestations of demons, witches, and other purveyors of spiritual harm at work, a common recourse is to the supernatural for answers and empowerment. Arguably, in no period in Ghana’s religious history has the services of purveyors of magico-religious power been so much sought after than presently. As people are more willing nowadays than ever before to experiment with unfamiliar sources of supernatural power, individuals claiming access to powers deriving from Hindu gods are attracting considerable attention. This development, however, represents a culminating point of a process that began during the British colonial empire when images of Hindu spirits filtered into Ghanaian communities, through a variety of local oral narratives and Hindu films. In the chaos that characterized Ghana’s struggle for independence and the early post-independence years, Hinduism began to attract attention as people sought supernatural power sources to cope with life challenges.