The Divine as a Child and the Mother Goddess
On the History and Practice of Kunwarikā Devī Worship in the Garhwal Himalaya
Kunwarikā Devī is one of the forms of Ādi Śaktī (primordial goddess) and is represented as a kanyā (unmarried little girl). She is worshiped both as a child and as a mother goddess in the Garhwal Himalaya. In 2019, there was a significant worship event of the goddess after a gap of 92 years (the previous worship had occurred in 1927). The Devī traveled to different villages to bless devotees and keep them safe. The Kunwarikā Devī worship practice can help illuminate the relationship between regional attachment and divinity, as Uttarakhand is referred to as the dev bhūmi, namely “land of the Gods.” The Kunwarikā Devī worship is located at the intersections of culture and society. The paper elucidates how the history of the Devī, her worship, story, and regional attachment are all connected. It argues that such journeys play a central role in integrating the Garhwali community but do not remove the organizational tensions that mark the Kunwarikā Devī procession. Finally, through detailed descriptions of the preparation and conduct of the worship, we highlight the organizational challenges involved in executing a ritual event on this scale.
Copyright (c) 2023 Vineet Gairola, Shubha Ranganathan
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