Dying Demons, Rising Gods and the Rupavahini: An Essay on the Production of Identity in Sri Lanka

Mey, Wolfgang

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In the aftermath of colonialism, many independent new nations faced the task of state- and nation-building, and along with it, the construction of a new national identity. The nationalistic notion of Singhalese elites, notwithstanding the multi-facetted ethnic, religious, and cultural composition of the island served as a blueprint for a number of political decisions, which aimed at shaping a NATIONAL CULTURE. In this process, the ritual diversity and ritual wealth of the country fell victim to an arbitrary neo-liberal transformation of rituals into profitable commodities. To suit the conventions of TV coverage, the anarchic, subversive and transcending properties and features of “alter ritualistic worlds” were cleansed and trimmed to suit a cultural mainstream. Under such a one-dimensional reduction the transcending message of rituals is not important anymore, it is the entertainment value that counts. Parallel to “dying demons” and “dying rituals” local shrines crop up in the country to serve needs of the believers, working on a simple basis of contract: If the gods don’t help the applicant, gods would not get their donations.

Document type: Conference Item
Publisher: CrossAsia E-Publishing
Place of Publication: Heidelberg
Date: 2016
Version: Primary publication
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2016
Number of Pages: 15
Event Dates: 16. -17- Juni 2014
Event Location: Köln
Event Title: Symposium Heim.at tanzt: Tanzästhetiken und Körperliche Identitätspolitiken
Faculties / Institutes: Miscellaneous > Individual person
DDC-classification: Political science
Customs, etiquette, folklore
Controlled Keywords: Sri Lanka, Nationalbewusstsein, Identitätspolitik
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sri Lanka, Identitätspolitik, Nationalbewusstsein, Rupavahini / Sri Lanka, Politics of Identity, National Identity, Rupavahini
Subject (classification): Anthropology
Countries/Regions: Sri Lanka