Asian Ethnology 81 1&2 | research note The Floating Existence of Taraṅgas Appraising Local Deities and Social Meaning-Making on the Western Coast of India

Durga Kale

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Hinduism possession rites object animation vernacular religion western India dramaturgy

Conversations around rites of possession and object animation within the Hindu performative sphere have a long history of being relegated to a marginalized space unworthy of academic investigation. Using the concept of dramaturgy popularized by Erving Goffman, this article shifts the gaze from object animation and spirit possession to its social performance, in which a temporary egalitarian social scheme is exhibited. In exploring the case of a specific possession rite locally called taraṅga devatā, which is practiced along the west coast of India, this article introduces the transformation of the deities housed in local shrines as entities capable of movement and communication known as taraṅga. In so doing, I reassess some local Hindu religious practices that were eschewed in the past.