ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Luthāma Guthi: Life of an organization serving Buṅgadyaḥ during the 18th—19th centuries


Bajracharya Manik - Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Research Unit "Documents on the History of Religion and Law of Pre-modern Nepal", Heidelberg, Germany


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


Several socio-religious organizations known as guthis have been formed overtime to serve the deity Buṅgadyaḥ and to organize his annual chariot procession, arguably the longest chariot procession in South Asia. One of such organizations, Luthāma Guthi, formed in the 17th century, is responsible for maintaining an important part of the structure of the chariot, namely vimāna, the part securing the sanctum. Documentary evidences reveal that this guthi went through a great transition after the Śāha rulers conquered the Kathmandu Valley in 1767-68. This paper, on the basis of a number of textual sources, will analyse the life of the Luthāma Guthi during the transition, exploitations it had to cope with, protests by the members, and a legal battle to regain the overseership of the guthi to its original members.