Skip to main content

Distributed for Seagull Books

Guilty Males and Proud Females

Negotiating Genders in a Bengali Festival

Guilty Males and Proud Females is the first complete study on the Bengali gajan festival dedicated to Dharmaraj, a village god in the Rarh region of Bengal. The gajan is the dramatic representation of an hierogamy—the marriage of a god and goddess—and a recreation of the life-cycle of earth. As Fabrizio M. Ferrari explains one of the most fascinating aspects of the gajan is its approach to gender. The central deity of the gajan is a goddess identified with the earth. To please such a goddess, male devotees must acknowledge the pain they inflict towards the female world and become “ritual women.” Conversely, as part of the festival, women display their generative power and provoke the jealousy of men by ritually mocking conception and delivery. The outcome of the ritual is that their suffering is acknowledged and transformed into power.

Much more than an ethnography of Bengali popular religion, Guilty Males and Proud Females contributes to new studies on gender transformation in the Bengal region and will be of interest to scholars of South Asian religions, folklore, and gender studies.

268 pages | 13 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2010

Religion: South and East Asian Religions

Sociology: Race, Ethnic, and Minority Relations

Seagull Books image

View all books from Seagull Books

Table of Contents


A Note on Texts, Translations and Citations

Chapter One: Shunya Purana and the Making of a Tradition

Chapter Two: One, No One and One Hundred Thousand: The Goddess Behind the Gods

Chapter Three: The Divine Virgin: Rites of Gender Transformations

Chapter Four: The Divine Mother: Rites of Gender Confirmation

Chapter Five: The Beldam: Pacification and Surrender

Chapter Six: Bringing It All Back Home: Concluding Remarks and the (Open) End of the Gajan



Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press