publication . Article . 2018

The Invisible Path of Karma in a Himalayan Purificatory Rite

Arik Moran;
Open Access English
  • Published: 12 Mar 2018 Journal: Religions; Volume 9; Issue 3; Pages: 78 (issn: 2077-1444, Copyright policy)
  • Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Indic rites of purification aim to negate the law of karma by removing the residues of malignant past actions from their patrons. This principle is exemplified in the Kahika Mela, a rarely studied religious festival of the West Himalayan highlands (Himachal Pradesh, India), wherein a ritual specialist assumes karmic residues from large publics and then sacrificed to their presiding deity. British officials who had ‘discovered’ this purificatory rite at the turn of the twentieth century interpreted it as a variant of the universal ‘scapegoat’ rituals that were then being popularized by James Frazer and found it loosely connected to ancient Tantric practises. The However, observing a recent performance of the ritual significantly complicated this view. This paper proposes a novel reading of the Kahika Mela through the prism of karmic transference. Tracing the path of karmas from participants to ritual specialist and beyond, it delineates the logic behind the rite, revealing that the culminating act of human sacrifice is, in fact, secondary to the mysterious force that impels its acceptance.
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Fields of Science and Technology classification (FOS)
06 humanities and the arts, 0603 philosophy, ethics and religion, 060302 philosophy, 060303 religions & theology
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
16. Peace & justice
free text keywords: Himachal Pradesh; human sacrifice; karma; Khas; Kullu; Nar; ritual; scapegoat; shaktism; Tantra, Religious studies, Himachal Pradesh, human sacrifice, karma, Khas, Kullu, Nar, ritual, scapegoat, shaktism, Tantra, Tantra, Ancient history, Karma, Rite, Reading (process), media_common.quotation_subject, media_common, Human sacrifice, Scapegoat, History, lcsh:Religions. Mythology. Rationalism, lcsh:BL1-2790
Related Organizations
  • Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage
  • Social Science and Humanities
Funded by
Narrating the Past in the Hindu Himalayas: On Social Memory in South Asian Oral Traditions
  • Funder: European Commission (EC)
  • Project Code: 334489
  • Funding stream: FP7 | SP3 | PEOPLE
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