Making God Present: Place-Making and Ritual Healing in North India

Making God Present: Place-Making and Ritual Healing in North India This article examines how deities are known, experienced, and made present in small-scale, domestic divination and healing rituals in Garhwal, a region in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand. While possessed by local gods and goddesses during these rituals, ritual specialists known as bakkyās diagnose and treat individual clients suffering from social, psychological, or bodily afflictions by offering sthān (place) to, or making sthān for, divinities. Through a detailed ethnographic description of a healing ritual in which the author participated, the article traces acts of ritual “place-making,” including moments when space is made for a deity, a deity is transported from one location to another, and a deity is emplaced, that is, limited or contained in specific ways. Place-making is thus both literal, in the sense of making a divinity present in a material site such as a home or temple, and metaphorical, in that it signifies a long-term, reciprocal commitment between a divinity and a worshiper, in which both make place for each other in their lives. By showing how person, place, and divinity are brought together in ritual interactions, the article contributes to possession studies, the anthropology of space and place, and the study of ritual performance traditions in North India. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Hindu Studies Springer Journals

Making God Present: Place-Making and Ritual Healing in North India

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Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Subject
Religious Studies; Religious Studies, general; Non-Western Philosophy; Hinduism; Asian History; Philosophy of Religion
ISSN
1022-4556
eISSN
1574-9282
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11407-017-9208-y
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article examines how deities are known, experienced, and made present in small-scale, domestic divination and healing rituals in Garhwal, a region in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand. While possessed by local gods and goddesses during these rituals, ritual specialists known as bakkyās diagnose and treat individual clients suffering from social, psychological, or bodily afflictions by offering sthān (place) to, or making sthān for, divinities. Through a detailed ethnographic description of a healing ritual in which the author participated, the article traces acts of ritual “place-making,” including moments when space is made for a deity, a deity is transported from one location to another, and a deity is emplaced, that is, limited or contained in specific ways. Place-making is thus both literal, in the sense of making a divinity present in a material site such as a home or temple, and metaphorical, in that it signifies a long-term, reciprocal commitment between a divinity and a worshiper, in which both make place for each other in their lives. By showing how person, place, and divinity are brought together in ritual interactions, the article contributes to possession studies, the anthropology of space and place, and the study of ritual performance traditions in North India.

Journal

International Journal of Hindu StudiesSpringer Journals

Published: Jul 11, 2017

References

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