Ritual/Performance/Practice (Cassie Adcock, Fall 2007)

Contributed by Cassie Adcock, Washington University in St. Louis

Recommendations for a course on South Asian traditions in practice that would explore ritual, perfomance, and traditions of self-cultivation.

For theoretical approaches on rituals in general, Bell, Catherine, Ritual
Theory, Ritual Practice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Richard Schechners introduction to Performance Studies, 2nd edition,
Routledge 2006. (1st ed. was 2002, be sure to get the new one.) A wonderful treatment of
performance from many points of view, lots of pictures and boxes with interesting quotes.

Tracy Pintchman 2005 “Guests at God’s Wedding” looks at
women’s performance (in Varanasi) of a month-long tradition
of puja to Krishna. These women’s practices challenge the
dominant take on Krishna as the transgressive “God of Play”–
the women domesticate Krishna, raising him up from infancy,
performing his upanayana, and then arranging and performing
his marriage to Tulsi.

Haberman’s Acting as a Way of Salvation

For gender studies, local Islam and local Hinduisms,
consider these two:

Flueckiger, Joyce Burkhalter 2006. In Amma’s Healing
Room: Gender and Vernacular Islam in South India

Pintchman Tracy (ed), 2007. Women’s Lives and Women’s
Rituals in Hindu Traditions

Life of Hinduism, ed. Hawley & Narayanan, UC Press
2006, has lots of practice-oriented pieces.

Marsden, Magnus (2005). Living Islam: Muslim Religious
Experience in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.

Linda Hess, “An Open-Air Ramayana: Ramlila, the Audience
Experience” from Hawley and Narayanan’s book
“The Life of Hinduism.”

Susan Wadley, Raja Nal and the Goddess, about the
performance of the oral epic Dhola in the Braj region.

Clothey, W. Fred, “Toward a Comprehensive Interpretation of
Ritual,” Journal of Ritual Studies 2 (2) 1988: 147-162 (an excellent essay on
the interpretative approaches of Hindu rituals)

Reddy, Prabhavati, “Vishnu’s Universe in Ritual Space: The
Abhisheka Ceremony of Penn Hills’ Venkatesvara,” Journal of
Ritual Studies 20(2) 2006: 1-18, figures and plates.

John Stratton Hawley, At Play with Krishna; Krishna, the Butter Thief.

David Haberman’s Journey Through the Twelve Forests

Personifying the Sikh Scripture: Ritual Processions of the
Guru Granth Sahib in India”, i Knut A. Jacobsen
(ed.), “South Asian Religions on Display: Religious
Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora”, Routledge,

“Dying and Death in Sikhism” i Kathleen Garces-Foley
(red.), Death and Religion in a Changing World” NY: ME
Sharpe, 2005. (Order the book at M.E. Sharpe)

David Pinault’s The Horse of Karbala

Whitney Kelting, Singing to the Jinas. It centers around
the rituals of devotional singing in Jainism and in
particular the way the performancesof hymns enhance or
shape the interpretation of rituals.

Laurie Patton, 2005, Bringing the Gods to Mind: Mantra and
Ritual in Early Indian Sacrifice (University of California
Press) deals with some of these issues from the perspective
of Vedic sacrifice. best as recommended reading for
undergraduates–a little heavy except for advanced
undergrads or grads

Selva Raj and William Harman, DEALING WITH DEITIES: THE
RITUAL VOW IN SOUTH ASIA, 2007, Suny Press. It focuses on
rituals surrounding vow activity in South Asia among Hindus,
Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Muslims, and Sikhs.

Ramdas Lamb (SUNY Press, 2002), Rapt in the Name, on the
Ramnami Samaj, A Harijan religious movement in
Chhattisgarh. Their primary ritual is the chanting of
Ramnam, interspersed with verses from the Ramcharitmanas.
In the process, they have developed a rather unique form of
chanting whereby they bring in verses from other texts, have
philosophical debates, and even have short conversations
with each other while still chanting.

Jonathan Parry, Death in Banares

Catherine Weinberger-Thomas, Ashes of Immortality: Widow-
Burning in India

James Laidlaw, Riches and renunciation : religion, economy,
and society among the Jains

David Gordon White, The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions
in Medieval India

Joseph Alter, Gandhis Body

Richard Davis, Ritual in an Oscillating Universe

Chris Fuller, Servants of the Goddess

Lawrence Babb, Absent Lord

Gloria Raheja, The Poison in the Gift

David Pinault, The Shiites