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Jessica Vantine Birkenholtz

Reciting the Goddess: Narratives of Place and the Making of Hinduism in Nepal

Reciting the Goddess: Narratives of Place and the Making of Hinduism in Nepal


ISBN: 9780190944216

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Reciting the Goddess is the first book-length study of Nepal's goddess Svasthani and the popular Svasthanivratakatha textual tradition. In the centuries following its origin as a simple local legend in the sixteenth century, the Svasthanivratakatha developed into a comprehensive Purana text that is still widely celebrated today among Nepal's Hindus with an annual month-long recitation. Jessica Birkenholtz uses the Svasthanivratakatha as a medium through which to view the ways in which political and cultural shifts among Nepal's ruling elite were taken up by the general public. 

Drawing on both archival and ethnographic research, the book examines Svasthani and the Svasthanivratakatha within the shifting literary, linguistic, religious, cultural, and political contexts of medieval and modern Nepal from the sixteenth century to the present. It also explores both the complementary and contentious relationships between Nepal's heterogeneous Newar Hindu and high-caste hill Hindu communities, and those of Nepal as a Hindu kingdom vis-à-vis Hindu India. Reciting the Goddess brings the Svasthani devotional tradition to light as a new case study in the discussion of the making of Hindu religious identity and practice in Nepal and South Asia.

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