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Distributed for Seagull Books

Sacred to Profane

Writings on Worship and Performance

 These essays explore the intricate connections between worship and performance, the sacred and the profane. In the process they challenge the common assumptions about worship as being simply about religious feeling, and open up the multifaceted possibilities of complex layering and overlapping that make any public act of worship simultaneously an act of socio-historical practice.

Thus, the legendary Ramlila of Ramnagar in Varanasi, which engages the entire community both as performers and as audience, becomes an exploratory site to understand the connections between socio-economic factors and religious devotion. Or the commissioned street performances of the sacred tale of Mother Sitala, Goddess of the Pox, in Calcutta´s by-lanes, are studied to see how professional performers don the mantle of the goddess in order to woo an audience. Or, in another register, the popular nineteenth-century Bengali mystic and sage Bamakshyapa, is seen to deploy performative tactics in the service of spirituality. Contributors include Richard Schechner, Sumanta Banerjee, Hanne de Bruin, Anuradha Kapur, Anjum Katyal.

296 pages | 5 3/4 x 8 1/4 | © 2006

Art: Middle Eastern, African, and Asian Art

Religion: South and East Asian Religions

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Laughing Performer
   Sibaji Bandyopadhyay
A Dramatist of Popular Angst: The Mystic Bamakshyapa of Tarapeeth
   Sumanta Banerjee
Performed Imaginaries: Ramlila in the City of Varanasi
   Richard Schechner
Making Music in the Spiritual Assembly: Qawwali and the Sufi Tradition
   Regula Burckhardt Qureshi
Performing the Goddess: Sacred Ritual into Professional Performance
   Anjum Katyal
Both Sacred and Profane: The Kattaikuttu Theatre in Tamilnadu
   Hanne M. de Bruin
   A.  Performative Acts of Healing: Legends of Bamakshyapa
   B.  A Sacred Geography: Watching the Ramlila of Ramnagar
   C.  The Dynamics of Actual Performance
   D.  Interview with Chapal Bhaduri
   E.  A Kattaikkuttu Playscript
Notes on Contributors

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