Evaluations of a sacred place: Role and religious belief at the Magh Mela

R. Barry Ruback, Janak Pandey, Neena Kohli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


People perceive places differently because of the different material, social, and symbolic aspects of the locations and because individuals have different backgrounds and different reasons for being at the locations. Two studies examined how role and religious beliefs affect perceptions of the environment at the Magh Mela, an annual religious festival at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in north India. In the first study (n=375), we interviewed individuals who were at the Mela for one of six reasons (religious pilgrims, sweepers, boatmen, police, businessmen, or student volunteers) about their religious beliefs and their perceptions of the Mela. Results indicated that the evaluations of pilgrims, who were at the Mela for religious reasons, were associated with evaluations of physical amenities and religious social support, whereas the other five groups, who were at the Mela primarily for nonreligious purposes, evaluated the Mela on the basis of material characteristics only. In the second study (n=311), we found that religious leaders' evaluations of the Mela were affected by material characteristics, religious social support, and intrinsic religious belief.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-184
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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