The Many Faces of a Himalayan Goddess: Hadimba, Her Devotees, and Religion in Rapid Change

ISBN : 9780190913588

Ehud Halperin; Robert Yelle
352 Pages
156 x 156 mm
Pub date
Dec 2019
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Hadimba is a primary village goddess in the Kullu Valley of the West Indian Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh, a rural area known as the Land of Gods. As the book shows, Hadimba is a goddess whose vitality reveals itself in her devotees' rapidly changing encounters with local and far from local players, powers, and ideas. These include invading royal forces, colonial forms of knowledge, and more recently the onslaught of modernity, capitalism, tourism, and ecological change. Hadimba has provided her worshipers with discursive, ritual, and ideological arenas within which they reflect on, debate, give meaning to, and sometimes resist these changing realities, and she herself has been transformed in the process. Drawing on diverse ethnographic and textual materials gathered in the region from 2009 to 2017, The Many Faces of a Himalayan Goddess is rich with myths and tales, accounts of dramatic rituals and festivals, and descriptions of everyday life in the celebrated but remote Kullu Valley. The book employs an interdisciplinary approach to tell the story of Hadimba from the ground up, or rather, from the center out, portraying the goddess in varying contexts that radiate outward from her temple to local, regional, national, and indeed global spheres. The result is an important contribution to the study of Indian village goddesses, lived Hinduism, Himalayan Hinduism, and the rapidly growing field of religion and ecology.


A Word on Transliteration
Chapter 1. Getting There: The Land of the Gods
Chapter 2. Assembling the Ritual Core: Hadimba as a Complex Agent
Chapter 3. Narrating the Local Web of Associations: The Goddess of Many Faces
Chapter 4. Encountering Epic India: Hadimba and the Mahabharata
Chapter 5. Negotiating National Hinduism: The Controversy over Blood Sacrifice
Chapter 6. Confronting the Global: Hadimba and Climate Change

About the author: 

Ehud Halperin teaches at Tel Aviv University. He earned his PhD in South Asian Religions from Columbia University in 2012. He specializes in the study of Himalayan Hinduism and the ways in which religious belief, practice, narrative, social order, and capitalist modernity intertwine in everyday life in the region, especially in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Halperin's work concerns diverse issues, such as Indian goddesses, Hindu ritual and sacrifice, material religion and agency of divinities, religion and ecology, and lived Hinduism.

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