The Dreadful Dance of the Goddess: Creativity and Mimesis in a Possession Cult of Assam




Kāmākhyā temple, Deodhāni-nāc, possession, dance, creativity, mimesis


Every year in August devotees flock to the Kāmākhyā temple (Guwahati, Assam), to attend and observe the Deodhāni-nāc, (the dance [nāc] of the sound [dhāni] of god [deo]). The main feature of this three-day festival is the dance of the deodhās. The deodhās, Assamese males, become possessed by the goddess Kāmākhyā (and the other deities connected to her) and dance to the beat of drums. The dance of deodhās reproduces to some extent the character and iconography of the possessing deities, but is not limited to that. Through the use of his body, each deodhā actively interprets this shared image of the deity, dancing in a singular way. The paper focuses on the creative, yet unconscious process through which each deodhā shapes his peculiar dancing style.

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Documentary film

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How to Cite

Majo Garigliano, Irene. 2018. “The Dreadful Dance of the Goddess: Creativity and Mimesis in a Possession Cult of Assam”. Cracow Indological Studies 20 (1):185-222.