South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Kali Kankali Shrine in Kachargadh: A Study of a Revived Folk Deity

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

This paper will consider origins, histories, and movements of Kali Kankali shrine and the Gond pantheon to Kachchargadh Caves in Maharashtra. In this region, an annual tribal fair and the practice of venerating Kali Kankali was revived in 1984. The folklore of this region reveals simultaneous processes of resisting Hindu interventions and creation of a consolidated Gondi Punem religion. The paper intends to investigate various religious traditions associated with the Kali Kankali shrines across Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh to ask: How do Gondi shrines, deities, and mythologies converse with the dominant religious representations? How do idols and iconographies articulate religious discourses, especially now when the very idea of the shrine is perceived as an intervention in the tribal worldview? Additionally, how do the counters to Hindutva movement created by the emergence of new shrines – especially those of Ravan – find representation in the material culture of the region? On an everyday basis, how does the community deploy its religious beliefs to mark its closeness with Nature? How do rituals sustain the claims of ethnicity and indigeneity?

In the Gond worldview, Kali Kankali shrines of Chandrapur and Kachargadh represent two different paradigms of thought, wherein the former is a shakti-peeth (seat of power) and the latter an utapatti-sthal (place of origin). These movements from the city-place to the caves of Kachargadh, from idol-worship of Mahakali to veneration of totems, from Sanskritised Hindu rituals to more simplified Gondi rituals, from hegemonic Marathi to Gondi are ways of envisioning a Gondi consciousness.

Mayuri Patankar

University of Delhi, India


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1 - Kali Kankali Shrine in Kachargadh: A Study of a Revived Folk Deity

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