Mountain Goddess: Gender and Politics in a Himalayan Pilgrimage

Paperback | March 1, 1995

byWilliam S. Sax

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Every few decades, thousands of Hindu villagers in the Central Himalayas of North India carry their regional goddess Nandadevi in a bridal palanquin to her husband Shiva's home, walking barefoot over icebound mountain passes to a lake surrounded by human bones. This Royal Pilgrimage ofNandadevi is a ritual dramatization of the post-marital journeys of married women from their natal homes to their husbands' homes. _Mountain Goddess_ is an anthropological study of this pilgrimage and the cult of Nandadevi, especially as they relate to local women's lives. The author shows howNandadevi's appeal stems from the fact that her mythology parallels the life-courses of the local peasant women, and that her ritual procession imitates their annual journey to the village of their birth. Drawing on formal Indian theories, verbal commentaries, songs, interviews, articles,propaganda, legends, pan-Indian Sanskrit liturgies, historical documents, and the author's remarkable personal account of the pilgrimage, this gripping narrative is a unique resource for courses in the anthropology of religion, Hinduism, and folklore, ritual, and gender studies.

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From Our Editors

IN THIS BOOK, WILLIAM S. SAX OFFERS AN ENTHRALLING ACCOUNT OF AN ARDUOUS JOURNEY, FOCUSING ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CULT OF NANDADEVI IN THE LIVES OF LOCAL HINDU WOMEN. SAX SHOWS THAT NANDADEVI'S APPEAL STEMS FROM THE FACT THAT HER MYTHOLOGY PARALLELS THE LIFE-COURSES OF CENTRAL HIMALAYAN PEASANT WOMEN, JUST AS HER RITUAL PROCESSIONS I...

From the Publisher

Every few decades, thousands of Hindu villagers in the Central Himalayas of North India carry their regional goddess Nandadevi in a bridal palanquin to her husband Shiva's home, walking barefoot over icebound mountain passes to a lake surrounded by human bones. This Royal Pilgrimage ofNandadevi is a ritual dramatization of the post-ma...

William S. Sax is at University of Christchurch, New Zealand.

other books by William S. Sax

Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 5.39 × 7.99 × 0.51 inPublished:March 1, 1995Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019506979X

ISBN - 13:9780195069792

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Table of Contents

1. INTRODUCTIONA Note on the Songs2. CREATIONSongs for Women3. THE SMALL PILGRIMAGEJats as PilgrimagesBirth and MarriagePlace and Person in GarhwalThe Male ModelSeparation and ReunionThe Secret of RupkundThe Whole VillageBride-priceA Female Perspective on Residence4. THE GODDESS AND THE DEMONDevi and the Buffalo DemonThe SacrificeThe Social Effects of Ritual5. RAJ JATHistoryThe Goddess and the MediaThe Background of RivalryThe Royal Pilgrimage of the Goddess Shri Nanda (1987)Ritual, Regionalism, and PoliticsConclusionAppendix: Transliterated TextsBibliographyIndex

From Our Editors

IN THIS BOOK, WILLIAM S. SAX OFFERS AN ENTHRALLING ACCOUNT OF AN ARDUOUS JOURNEY, FOCUSING ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CULT OF NANDADEVI IN THE LIVES OF LOCAL HINDU WOMEN. SAX SHOWS THAT NANDADEVI'S APPEAL STEMS FROM THE FACT THAT HER MYTHOLOGY PARALLELS THE LIFE-COURSES OF CENTRAL HIMALAYAN PEASANT WOMEN, JUST AS HER RITUAL PROCESSIONS IMITATE THEIR PERIODIC JOURNEYS BETWEEN THEIR NATAL AND MARITAL HOMES.

Editorial Reviews

"This is a valuable multidisciplinary contribution to South Asian studies and anthropological theory....[Sax's] rich and often humorous ethnographic description renders the book highly enjoyable reading for the layperson and expert alike. Together with its topicality, sound methodology, andaffordability, Mountain Goddess would be an excellent choice for those who wish to provide students with a colorful insider's view of Indian culture, in general, and an important pilgrimage tradition, in particular."--The Journal of Asian Studies