Accepted Paper:

Itinerary non Brahmin priest-musicians of the Bora Sambar region of western Orissa  


Lidia Guzy (National University of Ireland)

Paper short abstract:

This paper presents the circulation of cultural ideas expressed in ritual music of itinerary non-Brahmin priest-musicians of the Bora Sambar region of western Orissa. Indigenous vernacular ideas merge with hegemonic pan-Indian concepts into a regionally unique configuration which will be explored.

Paper long abstract:

The Bora Sambar region is an example of the local predominance of non-Brahmin religious specialists. They are generally associated with a particular indigenous Adivasi community and bear diverse names and functions depending on their specific religious tasks. A wide range of non-Brahmin priests is engaged in the ritual handling of the inauspiciousness of death or in the cure of psychological and physiological ailment, interpreted as caused by non-empirical malevolent external forces. For the encounter with this spiritual world, non-Brahmin priests utilise music and the sound of their diverse musical instruments. Besides those priest-musicians preoccupied with encounters with the spirits of the dead, a variety of many other itinerary non-Brahmin priest-musicians and singers exists in the Bora Sambar region. They venerate local goddesses by playing specific instruments and often act as local healers. The paper explores the interconnectedness of vernacular indigenous concepts and pan-Indian ideas represented in the ritual music of the Bora Sambar region of western Orissa.

Panel P14
Circulation of cultural tropes in indigenous Adivasi India