Accepted paper:

Framing and Reframing of self: A Study of the Kherai religious performances of the Bodo Community


Anwesa Mahanta (University of Delhi)

Paper short abstract:

This is an attempt to explore meanings of the performance acts, observed as interpretations of life, who move beyond a particular text to several processes of communication and exchange of emotions, feelings, desires, the performance as social action transforms the status of the participants.

Paper long abstract:

The term performance embraces an extensive arena of cultural texts ranging from performances of theatre, music, dance, and narration of oral texts, various kinds of social and religious rituals including speech events too. But within this societal existence of acts and events, the role of the self in individuating the societal connotations in one's life is an interesting phenomenon. The Bodos , one of the major ethnic and linguistic groups of Northeastern India residing mainly in Assam, observe Bathou series of rituals connected with Bathouism, being the main religion of the community. The Bathou Boiraye is the principal God and the devotees of this religion offer sincere prayers to propitiate the deity with performance acts ranging from dance, chanting and sacrifices. Among these Kherai and Garja are the most prominent religious acts each of which is subsumed with deep metaphysical symbolism. "If the symbolism of the myth is rightly understood the ritual will appear as a poetic enactment and not an empty religious act" (Jiwan Pani). However when these myths and legends are presented in stylized enactments through body movements, images, chanting they become powerful mode of aesthetic representation of an art having significant connotations contextualized in a particular society or community. The present paper attempts to explore a multi-perspective approach of the Kherai acts embracing its structure, process and purpose.

panel WMW04
Anthropology of emotions and senses in religious performances