‘Why Can’t Our Bhuta Have a Mask?’ Caste Contestations and Ritual Practice in Tulunadu

Vijayashree, CS (2023) ‘Why Can’t Our Bhuta Have a Mask?’ Caste Contestations and Ritual Practice in Tulunadu. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies.

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Abstract: The paper describes caste contestations around the Bhutaradhane tradition in the Tulunadu region of coastal Karnataka. Bhutaradhane is a pantheistic tradition of spirit worship which has been a key site for the assertion of regional identity claims in Tulunadu. The Bhutas (spirits) are ranked along a graded hierarchy that reflects the caste structure of the region. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, the paper describes the interventions of a Dalit caste, the Mundalas, to rupture this hierarchical structure and challenge their low assigned status in the tradition and in society. It explores how they draw on narratives of the past to appropriate and reshape the Bhutaradhane tradition in line with their aspirations for upward mobility. The paper situates current contestations around the caste’s patron Bhuta within the growing socio-political consciousness of the Mundalas, who have challenged the hegemonic discourse of Bhuta heritage, laying bare the operations of caste within the ritual as well as caste inequalities and exclusions in the region.
Item Type: Journal Paper
Keywords: Bhutaradhane,caste contestations,caste hierarchy,cultural assertion,Dalit ritual performance,Tulunadu
Subjects: School of Humanities > Heritage Studies
Divisions: Schools > Humanities
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2023 10:24
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2023 07:15
Official URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00856...
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    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00856401.2023.2179816
    URI: http://eprints.nias.res.in/id/eprint/2445

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