Author: Raminder Kaur
Publisher: Permanent Black
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8178240475
The Ganapati Utsava, a major festival of western India, raises compelling questions about the interplay of religion, spectacle and cultural politics. This book spanning a century of epochal history, considers how the public festival has been interwoven with everyday lives and the making of the modern Indian nation.
The Ganapati Utsava is dedicated to the elephant-headed god, and is a major festival of western India. The festival was mobilized as a potential vehicle for political critique in the 1890s, pre-eminently by Bal Gangadhar Tilak.. Its success lay in combining entertainment with veneration, which meant that the event could not be easily prohibited by the colonial state. While the success of the mobilization is widely acknowledged as the work of Tilak, this study shows that other, less-known community leaders were active, if not pioneering, in the festival’s more public transformations.
In contemporary India, this kaleidoscopic event is of interest to various bodies: to political parties such as the Shiv Sena, the BJP, and the congress; to media conglomerates which sponsor competitions associated with religious rituals; and to the police and regulating organizations of the state which strive to keep religious festivity ‘clean’ of criminality and excessive political manipulation.
At the level of community life and everyday bhakti, Raminder Kaur shows that the audio-visual aspects of the festival are crucial to its enduring appeal among large sectors of India’s populace. This is evident, for instance, from the emergence of martial representations of Ganapati and the development of shrine tableaux that provide commentaries on issues of historical and topical interest – such as the freedom struggle, contemporary political corruption, and the nuclear rivalry with Pakistan
As such, this book deploys a single major cultural and religious event to study the variety and cultures of contemporary Hinduism, and their complex histories. It is an outstanding monograph which will interest every serious student of Indian politics, cultural history, and anthropology.
List of Illustrations and Maps
THE PROMISE OF PERFORMATIVE POLITICS
The Public Field
A Multifaceted Festival
‘SEETHING WITH SEDITION’
Recasting Tilak’s Interventions
Fire in the Belly of the Gods
A Festival in Ferment
A Whirlpool of Movements
THE SPECTACLE OF DRAMA AND THE DRAMA OF SPECTACLE
A Long Train of Etceteras
GANESH CHATURTHI: FESTIVAL AS PRAXIS
‘an Antidote to Vague Despair’
Engaging with Mandap Tableaux
Society of the Spectator
The Immersion Procession
The’Saffronisation’ of Public Space
MANDAL, MEDIA, AND THE MARKET
Gods and Goods
The Business of Religion
Marking the Event
Overview of the Three Rounds
Assessing the Competition
Contemporary Political Culture in Maharashtra
The Eye of the Tiger
An Art of Stage-craft or State-craft?
Variant Versionings of the Nation
Spectacles and Spectators
Bombs and the Nation
Gods, Bombs and the Social Imaginary
The Destroyer of Worlds
A NATION OF MAGIC MIRRORS
National or Natural?
Envisaging the Nation
Heroic Figures / Iconic Events / Space and Territory / Gendered Tropes of the Nation / Perceptions of the Other / Future Horizons / Modern Totems and Metaphors
AN IMPERFECT OSMOSIS
Glossary and Abbreviations