Legends of Hariścandra: Elite intervention and subaltern performance in the spring ritual of Dharma gājan’Association for Asian Studies (2009)
This paper is about the spring gajan in Bengal and texts associated with it. The gajan is a fertility ritual associated with the Bengali New Year, with the approach of the dangerous season of intense heat before the monsoon rains. During the century from 1650 to 1750 Dharmamangal texts were composed for performance in the gajan. They describe the life of the military hero and raja Lau Sen and his subaltern Kalu Dom.
These texts pose two problems when we attempt to consider them in relation to the gajan ritual. First, there is only a weak relation of content between the texts and the ritual. Second, members of elite jati like Lau Sen are the main actors of Dharmamangal texts, but seem never to have been the main actors of the ritual.
Dharmamangal also introduce the story of Hariscandra to justify Lau Sen’s worship of Dharma. This paper will show that there are closer links between the gajan ritual and the stories of Hariscandra in Dharmamangal. It will include an analysis several versions of Hariscandra narratives by both high and very low jati authors. Then it will describe rhetorical purposes both of these texts and of the ritual elements of the gajan that can be linked to the Hariscandra story.
Publication DateMarch 28, 2009
Citation InformationDavid Curley. "Legends of Hariścandra: Elite intervention and subaltern performance in the spring ritual of Dharma gājan’" Association for Asian Studies (2009)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/david-curley/12/