ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

The Grace and the Curse of Mother-Goddesses and their devotees


Kunihiro Akiko - Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan


23 – Engaging the world through contemporary South Asian tantric and shamanic traditions


 This paper will focus on the religious grace and the curse of Mother-Goddesses, particularly Bahucharā mātā in North Gujarat, to examine reciprocal relations between the Deities and those who devoted themselves to the divine beings, more commonly known as hijras. Hijras of India are often referred to as transgender people nowadays, yet those of North Gujarat are not exactly equivalent to transgender people who negotiate to establish their own stable gendered identity. Rather, hijras of North Gujarat are habitually claiming their rights of being in front of laypeople through their performative embodiment of divinity. Moreover, they can thread others to give damages by cursing if their claims are neglected. As their beings have owned to the grace and the curse of Mother Goddesses, they have the power to do the same to laypeople. Firstly, I will unravel mythical tales handed down orally, which show us the relations between Bahucharā mātā and hijras of North Gujarat. Then, I will examine how hijras of North Gujarat set up their everyday life through the divine power of Mother-Goddesses.