Liminality and communitas reconsidered : the politics of caste and ritual in Goalpara, West Bengal

Korom Frank J.: Liminality and communitas reconsidered : the politics of caste and ritual in Goalpara, West Bengal. In: Politics and folk religion, (6). pp. 105-130. (2001)

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This paper concerns a local Bengali deity named Dharmaraj, whose worship in eastern India was quite extensive in medieval times. Today, however, ritual performances in his honor are confined to three contiguous districts of West Bengal. This decline in worship is partly due to the co-optation of a predominantly lower-caste deity by Brahmins. The degree to which “Sanskritization” has altered the practices associated with the deity shall be explored in both historical and ethnographic contexts based on medieval Bengali literature and anthropological fieldwork. The aim is to understand how the deity can be manipulated ideologically over time to serve the interests of different caste groups. I wish to sketch the dynamics of how Dharmaraj is currently constructed, interpreted, and understood in one small village - Goalpara - located in Birbhum District, the center ofthe deity’s worship. To do this, I will present data pertaining to annual puja, or ritual performance, for the deity. Ritual data will be supplemented with exegesis provided to me by a cross section of individuals belonging to various castes within the village. I intend to conclude by suggesting that the deity serves a mediational role in the village by resolving conflicts resulting from caste hierarchy. Moreover, his annual puja, although not levelling social status, displays a strong sense of Tumerian communitas, which allows for a temporary form of egalitarianism in which members of all castes gain access to the deity.

Item Type: Book Section
Journal or Publication Title: Politics and folk religion
Date: 2001
Volume: 6
ISSN: 1419-1288
ISBN: 963 482 400 5
Page Range: pp. 105-130
Series Name: Szegedi vallási néprajzi könyvtár
Language: English
Event Title: Symposium of SIEF Commission of folk religion (3.) (1999) (Szeged)
Related URLs:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Vallásosság - India - 20. sz., Valláspolitika - India - 20. sz., Népi vallásosság - India
Additional Information: Bibliogr.: p. 128-130. ; összefoglalás angol nyelven
Subjects: 06. Humanities
06. Humanities > 06.01. History and archaeology
06. Humanities > 06.03. Philosophy, ethics and religion
Date Deposited: 2020. Sep. 11. 11:12
Last Modified: 2022. Feb. 03. 09:27

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