Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://une.intersearch.com.au/unejspui/handle/1959.11/652
Title: Playing History: Music's Agency in the Creation of Historical and Sacred Realms during a Central Himalayan Festival
Contributor(s): Alter, AB (author)
Publication Date: 2004
DOI: 10.1080/1479027042000327174
Handle Link: https://hdl.handle.net/1959.11/652
Abstract: The small town of Purnath1 which is located in Central Garhwal holds an annual mela (festival) to worship and reaffirm the power of its local deity. The unique history associated with the town's original forceful acquisition of its deity is an integral part of the mela.2 Events associated with the deity's original acquisition arere-enacted by the townspeople as both a form of worship and as a dramatic spectacle. In this way, the mela provides an opportunity for participants to simultaneously worship their deity and reaffirm their interlinked identities. This paper examines the mela by documenting and analysing the unique musical repertoire used to accompany what is essentially a sacred performance. Knowledge of the musical repertoire that accompanies the ritual aspects of thePurnath Mela is maintained by specialist drummers who live in the town. Their explanation of how music is related to historical re-enactment provides the framework for the description presented here. However explanations concerning the connections between music and ritual action may also be usefully analysed from the broader perspective of the metaphysics of sound as expounded in Hindu philosophy.3 Metaphysical explanations of music's central place in the existence/creation of the world clarify the role of music in ritual action and can provide an understanding of how sacred and historical realms may become merged. Music is the agent that allows this convergence to occur. Through its invisible aural substance, it allows participants to connect with the historical and sacred realms of their mela.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 27(3), p. 359-377
Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Place of Publication: UK
ISSN: 0085-6401
Field of Research (FOR): 190409 Musicology and Ethnomusicology
HERDC Category Description: C6 Editorship of a Scholarly Journal
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