The growth of an ashwath katte as a religious and social space is a gradual process and emerges from the needs of the communities living there. The process of territorialization starts when a local resident places a framed deity at the foot of the peepul tree. The tree then begins to be worshipped by other families in the vicinity.
As time passes by, everyday activities such as the pradakshina, the performing of the aarti and tying of the sacred thread around the ashwath katte begins to take place. This tends to strengthen the religious sentiments of the community for the space and contributes to building collective memory. Gradually, a platform made up of stones or bricks emerges around the katte which proves to be an anchor for other social, economic and cultural activities. In many cases, a small shrine replaces the framed deity and other ritual objects are added. It is these stages in the development of the ashwath katte that we define as ‘territorialization’. We realise that such appropriation of public space by local residents is not uncommon in our cities in India.
In your own neighbourhood, is there an example of how a small, public space was created by people – a temple, a roadside shrine, a space for drinking water, the feeding of cows, space where people come to feed the pigeons, a place under the shade of a tree that now has a platform for people to sit or a simple bench that a resident welfare association has sponsored outside an apartment complex or a temple?