This PhD Thesis studied the sacred geography of Nepal and of pilgrimages to holy places situated at river confluences. I conducted fieldwork between 2000 and 2003 at three famous pilgrimage sites in Southern Nepal: Dev Ghat, Ridi Ghat and Varahakshetra. Pilgrimage at these confluences was particularly interesting because it gave rise to a large gathering of different castes and ethnic groups. Each group was connected to the site through specific (but often) superposing myths, the worship of different deities or the respective performance of rituals that differed in terms of their timing, the officiating persons or the type of offering made. For each of these three places, I studied the festivals, the rituals, the mythology (and the relationship between the Great tradition and the local stories) and I translated the pilgrimage guides utilized by pilgrims coming from all the regions of Nepal and from India. The study of these places also gave me an occasion to reflect critically on the category of “the sacred”; my attempt was to avoid considering “the sacred” as an ontological, transcendental and non-empirical category, and to see it rather as the result of a construction process that should be understood in terms of society, politics, kinship and territory. The “sacredness” of the confluences of rivers in Nepal did not appear to me as something intrinsic to the place, but rather as a product of ritual action performed there. It seemed more important to me to understand the process of constructing sacredness, than to postulate an a priori sacredness of confluences. Thus, when I speak of the sacredness of a confluence, I mean a place which receives significance and value thanks to a series of rules and prescriptions and, in particular, thanks to the performance of a precise ritual in a given space and at a given time. As a result of these ritual prescriptions, this place is no longer just any section of space, but is specifically marked: a place where cultural norms and ritual rules are inscribed and practised in the landscape.

(2003). Le confluenze sacre dei fiumi in Nepal. (Tesi di dottorato, Università di Roma La Sapienza, 2003).

Le confluenze sacre dei fiumi in Nepal

LETIZIA, CHIARA
2003-03-12

Abstract

This PhD Thesis studied the sacred geography of Nepal and of pilgrimages to holy places situated at river confluences. I conducted fieldwork between 2000 and 2003 at three famous pilgrimage sites in Southern Nepal: Dev Ghat, Ridi Ghat and Varahakshetra. Pilgrimage at these confluences was particularly interesting because it gave rise to a large gathering of different castes and ethnic groups. Each group was connected to the site through specific (but often) superposing myths, the worship of different deities or the respective performance of rituals that differed in terms of their timing, the officiating persons or the type of offering made. For each of these three places, I studied the festivals, the rituals, the mythology (and the relationship between the Great tradition and the local stories) and I translated the pilgrimage guides utilized by pilgrims coming from all the regions of Nepal and from India. The study of these places also gave me an occasion to reflect critically on the category of “the sacred”; my attempt was to avoid considering “the sacred” as an ontological, transcendental and non-empirical category, and to see it rather as the result of a construction process that should be understood in terms of society, politics, kinship and territory. The “sacredness” of the confluences of rivers in Nepal did not appear to me as something intrinsic to the place, but rather as a product of ritual action performed there. It seemed more important to me to understand the process of constructing sacredness, than to postulate an a priori sacredness of confluences. Thus, when I speak of the sacredness of a confluence, I mean a place which receives significance and value thanks to a series of rules and prescriptions and, in particular, thanks to the performance of a precise ritual in a given space and at a given time. As a result of these ritual prescriptions, this place is no longer just any section of space, but is specifically marked: a place where cultural norms and ritual rules are inscribed and practised in the landscape.
MONTINARI, ENRICO
India, Nepal, Hinduism, Pilgrimage, Sacred Geography, tirtha, holy bath
Italian
Storia religiosa
14
2003
(2003). Le confluenze sacre dei fiumi in Nepal. (Tesi di dottorato, Università di Roma La Sapienza, 2003).
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10281/38390
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