The needle and the sword: Boatmen, priests and the ritual economy of varanasi

Assa Doron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Varanasi, a place on the banks of the sacred River Ganges, is one of the holiest cities of India. This paper examines a post-wedding river ritual wherein a seemingly mundane activity like boating is turned into a sacred event. An attempt is made to re-examine the influential organizing ideas of domination and hierarchy with attention to how the subaltern boatmen ingeniously subvert their assigned position as 'the dominated' thus interrupting the traditional priestly order. It is shown how the hard dichotomies of great/little tradition, subaltern/ elite, dominant/dominated, contestation/co-operation, become more fluid when examined in the context of daily interactions at the grassroots level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-367
Number of pages23
JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes

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