ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

10 – Stasis and Motion in the Processional Culture of Kathmandu Valley: The Buṅgadyaḥ Yātrā Revisited

The annual procession of the god Buṅgadyaḥ is one of the most important festivals in Kathmandu Valley. Over the centuries the festival has become a major forum for the performance of social, religious and gender identities, the staging of power and status and the construction of spatiotemporal imaginaries.

Convenors

Christiane Brosius - Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg Univerisity, Heidelberg, Germany
Manik Bajracharya - Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Research Unit "Documents on the History of Religion and Law of Pre-modern Nepal", Heidelberg, Germany
Rajan Khatiwoda - Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Nepal Heritage Documentation Project, Heidelberg, Germany

Long Abstract

The annual procession of the god Buṅgadyaḥ is one of the most important festivals in Kathmandu Valley. Over the centuries the festival has become a major forum for the performance of social, religious and gender identities, the staging of power and status and the construction of spatiotemporal imaginaries. This panel invites contributions across the disciplines, especially from anthropology, epigraphy, heritage documentation, art history, archival studies, and digital humanities in order to explore the multifaceted, dynamic, and contested nature of Buṅgadyaḥ worship from a transtemporal and transmedial perspective.

The list of potential topics includes, but is not limited to: 1) Mobility and immobility: How does the itinerant nature of the festival, the interplay of stasis and motion, shape the artefacts, ritual activities, and practices of placemaking? What is their impact on the urban topography and social fabric of Kathmandu Valley? 2) State and civil society: In which ways have political elites and local communities been sharing ritual and public spaces? How have law and bureaucracy been affecting the communal associations (guṭhī)? 3) Text and practice: Which role have written artifacts (inscriptions, chronicles, or documents) been playing in the appropriation of places, institutionalization of ritual traditions or consolidation of social organizations? To what extent do they still shape social practices, contemporary discourses, or collective memory? 4) Value(s) and valorisation: How are meaning attribution and resource allocation related? What types of values and imaginations do different social groups attach to Buṅgadyaḥ worship? How are they inscribed in physical objects or places?