ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Reciting violence: Yearly performance of Svasthani-vrata-katha in Nepal


Chudal Alaka Atreya - University of Vienn, South-Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, Vienna, Austria


21- Panel Title: Violence against women in South Asian countries


 Svasthani-vrata-katha (SVK) is one of Nepal’s best-known and most-read and heard storytelling traditions. It originated in the sixteenth century as a short devotional text that tells a story of the Nepali goddess Svasthani. Originally a very short story, SVK later adopted puranic stories such as Shiva-Sati story, Shiva-Parvati story as well as stretched the local story of Goma-Navaraj and has been made of 31 Chapters, to be recited every day for a full month every winter. The added stories show the sufferings of woman and to get released of them, recommends only solution of performing the ritual vow of Svasthani.

This article argues what religious belief makes the contemporary women of Nepal repeatedly recite the story of SVK. Do they ever realise if there is any violence in the story they recite ever year? Can the religious belief let people see any violence in such puranic stories? What is the hidden power that acknowledges the violence? What kind of role do the SVK stories play in configuring gendered social worlds?