Ancestors, Goddesses, Ritual and Politics

Fieldwork in Bhaktapur, Nepal

Authors

  • Matthew Martin Independent scholar

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/firn.23786

Keywords:

Nepal, Bhaktapur, Newars, Ritual Performance, Politics, Goddesses, Fieldwork, Religion

Abstract

This article will recount the author’s fieldwork in Bhaktapur, Nepal, between 2015 and 2016, during two separate stints, which coincided with the aftermath of an earthquake that occurred in April 2015. The author conducted his research with a family of dancer-mediums in Bhaktapur—known locally as the Banmalas—in an area known as Kamalvin?yak. Annually, from October to June, the Banmalas perform a series of ritual performances in and around Bhaktapur. During these rites, each medium embodies a member of a goddess-family (Navadurg?) whose respective shrines encircle Bhaktapur’s borders. Broadly, this article will introduce the family’s traditions, rituals and political affinities, whilst also highlighting the importance of combining group-centred fieldwork with a cross-sectional study for scholars of contemporary religion.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Matthew Martin, Independent scholar

Matthew Martin completed his DPhil in religion at Pembroke College, Oxford. His research interests include the study of lived religion, ritual, pilgrimage and politics in Nepal and South India. He is the author of Tantra, Ritual Performance and Politics in Nepal and Kerala (Brill, 2020) and has published book reviews in various journals.

References

Althusser, Louis. 1989 Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Bamberg, Michael, and Molly Andrews (eds). 2004. Considering Counter-Narratives: Narrating, Resisting, Making Sense. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1075/sin.4.

Brown, Karen McCarthy. 1991. Mama Lola: A Voudou Priestess in Brooklyn. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Csordas, Thomas. 1990. Embodiment as a Paradigm for Anthropology. Ethos 18(1): 5–47. https://doi.org/10.1525/eth.1990.18.1.02a00010

Dhakal, Suresh, and Sanjeev Pokharel. 2009. Local Movements, Political Processes and Transformation: A Case Study of Bhaktapur Municipality. Occasional Papers in Sociology and Anthropology 11: 178–209. https://doi.org/10.3126/opsa.v11i0.3036

Doniger, Wendy. 1980. Women, Androgynes, and Other Mythical Beasts. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Flood, Gavin. 1999. Beyond Phenomenology: Rethinking the Study of Religion. London: Continuum.

Geertz, Clifford. 1973. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books.

Geertz, Clifford. 1998. Deep Hanging Out. The New York Review, 22 October 1998. Online: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1998/10/22/deep-hanging-out/ (accessed 10 April 2022).

Gellner, David. 1992. Monk, Householder, and Tantric Priest: Newar Buddhism and its Hierarchy of Ritual. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ghimire, Pustak. 2016. Living Goddesses Everywhere? On the Possession of Women by the Goddess Bhagavati in Some Mountain Villages in Eastern Nepal. In Religion, Secularism, and Ethnicity in Contemporary Nepal, edited by David Gellner et al., 150–91. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gibson, Ian. 2015. Suffering and Christianity: Conversion and Ethical Change among the Newars of Bhaktapur. DPhil. dissertation, University of Oxford.

Gregg, Stephen, and Lynne Scholefield. 2015. Engaging with Living Religion: A Guide to Fieldwork in the Study of Religion. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315716671

Grieve, Gregory. 2006. Retheorizing Religion in Nepal. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230601475

Husserl, Edmund. 1970 [1954]. The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Kertzer, David. 1988. Ritual, Politics, and Power. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Levy, Robert. 1990. Mesocosm: Hinduism and the Organization of a Traditional Newar City in Nepal. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Lewis, Todd. 1993. Newar-Tibetan Trade and the Domestication of Si?halas?rthab?hu Avad?na. History of Religions 33: 135–60. https://doi.org/10.1086/463361

Longkumer, Arkotong. 2011. Reform, Identity, and Narratives of Belonging: The Heraka Movement in Northeast India. London: Bloomsbury.

Martin, Matthew. 2020. Tantra, Ritual Performance, and Politics in Nepal and Kerala. Leiden: Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004439023

Parish, Steven. 1996. Hierarchy and its Discontents: Culture and Politics of Consciousness in Caste Society. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. https://doi.org/10.9783/9781512805437

Parsons, Talcott. 1949 [1937]. The Structure of Social Action. New York: The Free Press.

Pradhan, Bhuwan Lal. 1997. Jñ?nam?l? Bhajan Kala [A Movement for Building up the Newar Society]. New?h Vijñ?na: A Journal of Newar Studies 1(1): 1–16.

Sakya, Anil. 2000. Newar Marriage and Kinship in Kathmandu, Nepal. PhD dissertation, Brunel University.

Shah, Alpa. 2017. Ethnography? Participant Observation, a Potentially Revolutionary Praxis. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 7(1): 45–59. https://doi.org/10.14318/hau7.1.008

Toffin, Gérard. 2007. Newar Society: City, Village and Periphery. Kathmandu: Sthapit Press.

Weber, Max. 2001 [1930]. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. London and New York: Routledge Classics.

Weber, Max. 1978 [1956]. Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretative Sociology. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Zharkevich, Ina. 2015 De-mythologizing “the Village of Resistance”: How Rebellious were the Peasants in the Maoist Base Area of Nepal? Dialectical Anthropology 59(4): 353–79. https://doi.org/10.1007

Published

2022-09-28

How to Cite

Martin, M. (2022). Ancestors, Goddesses, Ritual and Politics: Fieldwork in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Fieldwork in Religion, 17(2), 225–241. https://doi.org/10.1558/firn.23786

Issue

Section

Articles