Weaving Nature into Myth

Continuing Narratives of Wood, Trees, and Forests in the Ritual Fabric around the God Jagannath in Puri


  • Albertina Nugteren Tilburg University, the Netherlands




cultural geography


At Puri, every twelve years or so, the wooden statues of the deities in the great Jagannath Temple have to be ritually renewed. In a carefully scripted and partly secret procedure that may take as much as ninety days, four sacred trees are selected, cut, transported, and sculpted into images for the main altar. After a description of the factors that may have determined the tradition of continuing the wooden images, a detour is made by introducing a newly built temple in Bhadrak district which claims to follow exactly the same procedure. This finally leads me to some remarks on the uneasy relation between religion, nature, and violence.

Author Biography

Albertina Nugteren, Tilburg University, the Netherlands

Department Religious Studies senior lecturer


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How to Cite

Nugteren, A. (2010). Weaving Nature into Myth: Continuing Narratives of Wood, Trees, and Forests in the Ritual Fabric around the God Jagannath in Puri. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 4(2), 159–172. https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.v4i2.159