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Palace and Market: Transformations of Dossehra and Durga Puja in a former princely state in Odisha (India)

Wanneer:ma 26-05-2014 16:00 - 17:30
Waar:Room 253, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies
Palace and Market: Transformations of Dossehra and Durga Puja in a former princely state in Odisha (India)

Dr. Uwe Skoda (Aarhus University, Denmark)

The presentation looks at two by and large simultaneously performed rituals in the former princely state of Bonai - nowadays a sub-district in northwestern Odisha. It compares rituals around goddess Durga on two levels: a) historically (i.e. late 1930s versus present day practices), and b) spatially (i.e. fort-based rituals versus market-based rituals). An album of photographs commissioned by the last ruling chief and subsequent interviews form the basis of an analysis of pre-merger rituals, while observations in the palace as well as of the relatively newly introduced Durga Puja rituals performed in the market reveal a substantial ritual dynamic. In contrast to the 1930s fort-based rituals have either been  abolished or considerably reduced, yet the present Raja continues to sponsor a number of rituals for various deities and maintains links to certain Adivasi communities. However, in the wake of a recent industrialisation in Odisha the initially small Durga Puja, introduced in Bonai in 1948 by an “outsider”, increasingly overshadows fort rituals and - being generously funded by industrialists - attracts larger crowds. Thus, I argue that rituals around goddess Durga in all her manifestions encountered in Bonai may be considered a social prism to understand a local socio-cultural configuration and its transformations.