Bagḍwāl worship is a traditional ritual performed in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, India, which venerates the deity Jītū Bagḍwāl. The ritual is believed to safeguard crops, livestock, and village territories from potential harm. It involves the recitation of a folk ballad recounting the story of Jītū Bagḍwāl and his kin, accompanied by various forms of ritual actions such as drumming, dancing, singing, sacrifice, and possession. The essay documents the significance of Bagḍwāl worship and its deep-rooted cultural and religious significance. It is not only a means to seek protection and prosperity but also an expression of communal bonding and cultural identity. Furthermore, the artistic elements that are part of the ritual are not just for entertainment but also serve a deeper spiritual purpose. They facilitate the worshippers to enter into a trance-like state, in which they become possessed by the deity, coupled with drumming and narration by the bards, which plays a central role in the ritual action of worshipping Bagḍwāl. This essay advances our comprehension of the continuing importance of rituals that reinforce the active participation of deities in everyday life in the Himalayan little traditions.
Student, Ph.D., Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
BAGDWĀL, RITUAL, SACRIFICE, DRUMMING, DEITY POSSESSION, PERFORMANCE, GARHWAL, INDIA
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