Fire and Flowers: The Pilgrimage at Sani, Zangska (India)

Kim Gutschow
Society of Fellows and Department of Anthropology
Harvard University, Cambridge

( ) The pilgrimage of Sani gnas mjal (lit. "a visit to 'the place'") involves a 2-day festival on the full moon of the 6th Tibetan lunar month. The focus of the event is to receive blessings from a shrine dedicated to Naropa, a 10th century Tibetan saint who is believed to have meditated in the vicinity, as well as to watch the accompanying monastic dances ('chams). I will consider how this pilgrimage historically maintains social integration or solidarity and to what extent it resembles a self-organizing system. By focussing on social characteristics of attending pilgrims, I will explore how gender, village origin, and individual motivations are factors in the pilgrimage process. I will also examine how the catagory of women requires a revision of theories of liminality and communitas within the pilgrimage process.

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