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Inventing and Reinventing the Goddess

Contemporary Iterations of Hindu Deities on the Move

Edited by Sree Padma - Contributions by Brenda Beck; Perundevi Srinivasan; Tracy Pintchman; Sasikumar Balasundaram; Vasudha Narayanan; Sree Padma; Neelima Shukla-Bhatt; R. Mahalakshmi; Caleb Simmons and Priya Kapoor

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Popular religion in village India is overwhelmingly dominated by goddess worship. Goddesses can be nationally well-known like Durga or Kali, or they can be an obscure deity who is only known in a particular rural locale. The origins of a goddess can be both ancient—with many transitions or amalgamations with other cults having occurred along the way—and very recent. While some have tribal origins, others sprout up overnight due to a vivid dream. Inventing and Reinventing the Goddess: Contemporary Iterations of Hindu Divinities on the Move looks at the nature of how and why goddesses are invented and reinvented historically in India and how social hierarchy, gender differences, and modernity play roles in these emerging religious phenomena. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 352Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-9001-2 • Hardback • July 2014 • $105.00 • (£70.00)
978-0-7391-9398-3 • Paperback • May 2017 • $49.99 • (£32.95)
978-0-7391-9002-9 • eBook • July 2014 • $46.99 • (£31.95)
Sree Padma is executive director of the Inter-Collegiate Sri Lanka Education (ISLE) Program and research assistant professor in Asian studies at Bowdoin College.
Chapter 1: Goddesses That Dwell On Earth: A Folk Paradigm of Divine Female Multiplicity
Brenda Beck
Chapter 2: Constructing Goddess Worship: Colonial Ethnographic and Public Health Discourses in South India
Perundevi Srinivasan
Chapter 3: From Local Goddess to Locale Goddess: Karumariamman as Divine Mother at a North American Hindu Temple
Tracy Pintchman
Chapter 4: An Indentured Goddess: Displacement of a Village Deity from Colonial India to Ceylon
Sasi Kumar Balasundaram
Chapter 5: Creating Realities, Communicating Dreams, Constructing Temple Lore: Anklets for the Goddess’ feet at Thirumeeyachur
Vasudha Narayanan
Chapter 6: Traveling Goddess– A Study of Uppalamma in Andhra Pradesh
Sree Padma
Chapter 7: The Leap of the Limping Goddess: Aai Khodiyar of Gujarat
Neelima Shukla-Bhatt
Chapter 8: Tantric Visions, Local Manifestations: The Cult Centre of Chinnamasta at Rajrappa, Jharkhand
R. Mahalakshmi
Chapter 9: The Goddess on the Hill: The (Re)invention of a local goddess as Cāmuṇḍī
Caleb Simmons
Chapter 10: Communicating the Local Discursively: Devi, the Divine feminine as a Contemporary Symbol for Grassroots Feminist Politics
Priya Kapoor
In this edited volume, Sree Padma brilliantly introduces the comparative study of contemporary local goddesses as a crucial window on India today that has previously been underrepresented in scholarship. Worship of the goddess in many forms in India is one of the world’s oldest continuous traditions, and Inventing and Reinventing the Goddess shows how and why, by providing lucid discussion of the many ways in which communities have invested and reinvested local goddesses with a diversity of contemporary concerns. Each chapter’s detailed case study breaks new theoretical ground in our understanding of the vital synergy that emerges wherever and whenever people connect local and global in the figure of the goddess.
Karen Pechilis, Drew University


I am struck by how well this book brings out the vitality of South Asian goddess traditions, particularly in their mobility and the responses they elicit in new situations. These authors have looked for divinity in surprising places, and enriched the possibilities for deepening what we think we know.
Alfred Hiltebeitel, George Washington University


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