The Festival of Indra
Innovation, Archaism, and Revival in a South Asian Performance
Series: SUNY series in Hindu Studies
- ISBN: 9781438493336
- Published By: State University of New York Press
- Published: June 2023
The Festival of Indra details the textual and performative history of an important South Asian festival and its role in the development of classical Hinduism. Drawing on various genres of Sanskrit textual sources—especially the epic Mahābhārata—the book highlights the innovative ways that this annual public festival has supported the stable royal power responsible for the sponsorship of these texts. More than just a textual project, however, the book devotes significant ethnographic attention to the only contemporary performance of this festival that adheres to the classical Sanskrit record: the Indrajatra of Kathmandu, Nepal. Here, Indra's tall pole remains the festival's focal point, though its addition of the royal blessing by Kumari, the "living goddess" of Nepal, and the regular presence of the fierce god Bhairav show several significant ways that ritual agents have re-constructed this festival over the past two thousand years.