The panel will examine recent transformations in large-scale public ritual performances in Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and the Nepali diaspora in Europe.
The panel will examine the evolution and transformation of large-scale public ritual performances in a variety of South Asian contexts. It includes three papers on a newly-created, State-sponsored ritual dance performance at Dochula in Bhutan, intended to memorialise a politically sensitive episode in recent Bhutanese history. The Dochula event is the most recent stage in a long history of appropriation of large-scale Tantric Buddhist ritual for State purposes, and involves complex and self-aware symbolic messages relating to religion, citizenship and national identity. The increasingly international and global context of the performances has also led to the heightening of the aesthetic dimension. Both organisers and participants are increasingly aware of this context, with Bhutanese ritual dance performances in particular developing a significant tourist dimension. The remaining papers present case studies relating to India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, and the Gurung diaspora in Europe. All deal with recent transformations of public performance and State ritual, involving international and global connections, and we hope that the panel as a whole will provide the basis for a sophisticated theoretical analysis of these processes.