Territoriality at the Magh Mela: The effects of organizational factors and intruder characteristics

R. Barry Ruback, Neena Kohli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The Magh Mela, an annual Hindu festival held at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, attracts about 150,000 pilgrims who stay for a month in campsites maintained by religious organizations. This study examined territoriality at the campsites in terms of (a) observed characteristics-including personalizations (e.g., flags, banners) and barriers (e.g., fences, gates)-and (b) behavioral responses to an experimental intrusion by 1 or 2 intruder-interviewers who were either male or female. Across dependent measures, larger organizations and more fundamentalist organizations were more territorial. Results from the experiment indicated that territorial defense, in the form of a faster response to an intrusion, was evidenced more for female than male intruders and more for 1 than 2 intruders. These findings suggest that the concept of territorial defense should be broadened beyond physically threatening intrusions to include symbolically threatening intrusions (e.g., an intrusion by a single woman).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-200
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science


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