Village deity and sacred text: Power relations and cultural synthesis at an oral performance of the Bhagavatapurana in a Garhwal community

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    Abstract

    A week-long festival centered on stories about the deity Kr{dot below}s{dot below}N{dot below}a was held in the hamlet of Naluna, Garhwal district, Northern India. This practice (known as a sapt?h) is primarily a product of an elite Hindu community of the North Indian Plain. Two loci of power were identified: the village deity representing local authority, and the text-as-artifact of the Bh?gavatapur?na, the metonymy of the authority of the recently imported cultural practice. The role of each locus and their interaction are considered. While earlier theoretical frameworks for understanding interactions between communities in the hills and plains have stressed dichotomies, this paper seeks to characterize the processes using a metaphor of hospitality. This approach, in which the local community is seen as consisting of modern subjects and empowered agents, accounts more accurately for the nature of the interaction between the village deity and the sacred text, and the new cultural synthesis which emerges.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)197-221
    JournalAsian Ethnology
    Volume70
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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