ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Constructing identity with the Chariot of Karunamaya. A case of Barahi Guthi from Patan (Nepal)


Maharjan Monalisa - University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg, Germany


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


The chariot procession of Karunamya is not only limited to religious belief and entertainment but also connects with the different aspect of everyday life of communities living in the city. People identify themselves based on the ancient responsibilities for the deity and in the chariot procession. Out of many communities Barahi are responsible for the woodwork in the chariot construction. The ancient caste-based profession of Barahi is carpentry which many people are still continuing till date. Even the rituals and feasts of their community that goes all year around are mostly connected to Karunamaya. In the today’s urbanized, modernized and globalized world, Barahi Guthi (ancient association) is still practicing their traditional duty of chariot construction and other ritual obligation without any personal benefit. The story of Barahi continuing to their ancient practices are not smooth as it may seem but against all odds the practice is continuing till date but are not devote of threats of disappearances. The paper will explore how Barahi guthi use chariot in their identity making in the city and chariot making and its procession has been used in placemaking. The later part of this paper will also explain the different elements assembling wooden parts in chariot making with their names and the assembly method. The chariot’s elements have been sectioned into segments with graphics where required for better comprehensibility.