Bonding with the Lord: Jagannath, Popular Culture and Community Formation.

AuthorColeman, Tracy

Tripathy, Jyotirmaya, and Uwe Skoda, eds. Bonding with the Lord: Jagannath, Popular Culture and Community Formation. New Delhi: Bloomsbury 2020.

Building on work undertaken in the Orissa Research Projects--ORP I in the early 1970s, ORP II in the early 2000s--this collection of essays further expands the scope of Jagannath studies. While the publications following ORP I focused on Puri and examined the religio-political history of Jagannath, and works resulting from ORP II shifted the focus to various peripheral traditions in Odisha and their connections with Puri, the present volume explores "what Jagannath means in everyday contexts" (xvi). As the editors state in their theoretically rich introduction, "while not derecognising the historical Jagannath, what is attempted here is a novel look at the deployment of Jagannath in contemporary and popular cultural practices involving the sensorium in the widest sense. The project of culturalising and vernacularising Jagannath... not only materialises Jagannath in people's everyday practices but also democratises Jagannath scholarship, hitherto confined to institutional and textual articulations" (xvii). Far from "desacralising Jagannath and reducing devotees to consumers" (xviii), such an approach recognizes multiple registers and "multiple ways of experiencing sacred and secular Jagannath" and "highlight[s] peoples agency" in the production and mediation of Jagannath culture (xix-xx).

The volume is divided into three sections: (1) mediating Jagannath, including four chapters examining sight, sound, cinema, and performative spiritual discourse (prabachana) as modes of mediation; (2) practicing Jagannath, where three chapters explore food/prasad culture, household rituals, and devotional music as modes of practice; and (3) re-placing Jagannath, with three chapters focused on temples outside Odisha--in Chennai, New Delhi, and Agartala in Tripura; a final chapter by editor Uwe Skoda reflects on scholarly communities of practice and collaboration between European and Indian scholars in advancing Jagannath studies, and on their work thus far, including manuscripts and archives, publications and conferences, and exhibitions. Together these multidisciplinary studies exploring "bonding with the Lord" make a notable contribution to bhakti studies, asserting the significance of affect in embodied forms of devotion entailing emotional and physical bonding among devotees and between devotees and Jagannath.


To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT