South Asia

Organized Panel Session

4 - A Gathering of Gods and Goddesses: Influences and Transformations

Saturday, July 7
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Rudraksha, Lower Ground Floor

This paper will investigate the process of (re)appropriation of Sanamahism, an indigenous religion of Manipur, through a critical study of two major festivals of Manipur: Chingkhoi Iruppa and Durga Puja. Believed to be a festival that celebrates the might of the Sanamahi god, Nongpok Ningthou, Chingkhoi Iruppa, in the contemporary society of Manipur gets associated with Shiva. The main attraction of the festival is marked by a man dressed, and his body painted as Shiva, who gets mounted on top of Nongmai Mountain by devotees; overshadowing, and at times merging with the concept of Nongpok Ningthou. Such an appropriation, or rather retelling of the Sanamahi god throws light on the process of transposition of a comparatively marginal (Sanamahism) religion/ practice to the mainstream (Hinduism). When it comes to the celebration of Durga Puja, the aforementioned transposition does take place, but in a sort of reverse direction. There seems to be a fluid association between the Hindu goddess, Durga, and Sanamahi goddess, Panthoibi, during the festival of Durga Puja in Manipur. In many instances, the idol of Durga gets replaced by Panthoibi. Moreover, the festival often gets addressed as Panthoibi Puja by the Manipuri population.


This paper proposes to understand the unique osmosis between the two religions where the general idea of representation in which the marginal gets moulded into the mainstream is contested. Through a thorough investigation around the concept of (re)appropriations, it will attempt to arrive at a nuanced understanding of the concepts of “margin” and “mainstream.”

Hemchandra Nameirakpam

Ambedkar University Delhi, India

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