Brill’s Encyclopedia of the Religions of the Indigenous People of South Asia Online

Get access Subject: Asian Studies


Edited by:
Marine Carrin (Editor-in-Chief), University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès, and Michel Boivin, Centre for South Asian Studies (CNRS-EHESS), Gérard Toffin, Centre d’Études Himalayennes, Paul Hockings, University of Illinois at Chicago, Raphaël Rousseleau, Université de Lausanne, Tanka Subba, North-Eastern Hill University, Harald Lambs-Tyche, University of de Picardie-Jules Verne (Section Editors)

Brill’s Encyclopedia of the Religions of the Indigenous People of South Asia Online strives to reflect the diversity of indigenous cultures of South Asia with its many language groups and religious traditions. Religion is taken in a broad sense and includes aspects of morality, symbolism, identity formation, environmental concerns, and art. The approach is contemporary and not a reconstruction of an anterior state, though this does not exclude talking about historical processes.

This online edition is still a work in progress; the number, content, format, and organization of the articles remain subject to change.

More information: Brill.com

Paliyan: Fact Sheet

(172 words)

Author(s): Gardner, Peter M.
Among peaceful, egalitarian Paliyan (pl. Paliyar) foragers in the South Indian hills, 28% of men and women serve as the mouthpiece (shaman) of a male or female “protecting” god ( cami). A  cami can both diagnose whether an attacking spirit, sorcery, or immoral human behavior has caused an illness or injury and deal with such a problem.  Kattu karuppu (or  kattu) spirits attack Paliyar quite frequently but protecting gods are able to chase them away. Shamanistic sessions occur every week or two in any local group; they often last more than an hour or tw…
Date: 2019-04-15

Paliyan: The Essential Roles of Shamanism

(5,418 words)

Author(s): Gardner, Peter M.
Paliyan LifePeople like Paliyar have long hunted and gathered wild foods in the most southern ranges of hills in Tamil Nadu, south India. Classical Tamil poems about those hills, written 2,100 to 1,800 years ago, mention a trench left by diggers of wild yams, as well as remains of discarded honey-collecting ladders on cliffs. This sounds familiar. Although armies from the plains ranged then into the uplands and court poets were familiar with high-elevation flora, there is no word of contact or tr…
Date: 2019-04-15

Pardhan: Dashgatra Ritual

(5,720 words)

Author(s): Guidolin, Monica
The following research is based on long-term ethnographic field work (from 2008 to 2014) that aimed to draw a comparison between the Pardhans of the upper Narmadā Valley (Dindori and Mandla districts) and those living in Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh. The corresponding data was obtained by regularly shifting the focus of research from the urban to the rural context, a method that has yielded significant data on the social and religious dynamics of the Pardhan community of this regio…
Date: 2019-04-15

Pardhan: Fact Sheet

(541 words)

Author(s): Guidolin, Monica
The Pardhan are generally defined as traditional bards and court musicians of the Raj Gond, a dominant group of landowners that since the early 11th century were the rulers of a vast multi-tribal society. During the Gond royal power imposed in the regions of central India particularly from the 14th to the 16th centuries, the Pardhan negotiated their position with the small local princely states constituting the ancient Gond kingdoms (Gondwana). This region was subject to the influence of the feu…
Date: 2019-04-15

Pastoralists: Hindu Pastoralists of Western India: Fact Sheet

(597 words)

Author(s): Tambs-Lyche, Harald
Pastoralists may form a small proportion of Gujarat’s population today, but they have been significant historically and continue to hold an important place in the regional tradition. The cycle of myths centering on Kṛṣṇa is of crucial importance here, as the members of the Ahīr caste claim to be the descendants of his people. Together with the Cāran (Charan), the Rabārī, and the Bharvāḍ (Bharwad), they designate themselves as daglābhāī (“brothers of the blanket”), from the blanket ( daglā) worn by the cattle herders on their wanderings, used to shield against the cold an…
Date: 2019-04-15

Pastoralists: Religious Reform of the Sindhi-Muslim Pastoralists of the Banni Grassland

(8,150 words)

Author(s): Maru, Natasha
Islamic religious reform in South Asia has been widely written about, but rarely so in the case of nomadic pastoralists, and lesser still in the case of those that are distinguished by a transnational identity. This article traces the process of religious reform among the pastoralists of the Banni grassland in western India. Situated in the border district of Kachchh in Gujarat state, the Banni grassland presents a unique social, economic, and political milieu for the study of Islamization in India.The article elaborates on the interaction between a relatively modern Islami…
Date: 2019-04-15

Pastoralists: Sindhi-Muslim Pastoralists of the Banni Grassland: Fact Sheet

(838 words)

Author(s): Maru, Natasha
The pastoralists in the Banni grassland of Kachchh district, Gujarat, India, present a unique ethnic, linguistic, religious, livelihood-based and transnational identity. Though included within the broader socio-economic category of Māldhārī (“Those That Have the Wealth of Livestock”), a term that has gained currency over the past couple of decades through development efforts by both government and civil society, they differ from the other communities in this group for being ethnically and lingui…
Date: 2019-04-15

Pastoralists: Traditional Religious Practices among the Hindu Pastoralists of Western India

(7,259 words)

Author(s): Tambs-Lyche, Harald
The Rabārī and the Bharvāḍ, pastoralist communities of Gujarat and Rajasthan, are Hindus. In Rajasthan, the Rabārī are classified as a Scheduled Tribe under the name Raika, but elsewhere they are seen as castes: they have traditions of migrating to western India from the northwest, and these traditions have been acknowledged by both British authors, such as R.E. Enthoven (1920–1922), and German scholars like S. Westphal-Hellbosch and H. Westphal (1974; 1976). For the peninsula of Saurashtra, I h…
Date: 2019-04-15

Paudi Bhuiyan: Fact Sheet

(482 words)

Author(s): Skoda, Uwe
The Paudi Bhuiyans represent a small section of the larger Bhuiyan community. Other names commonly used for them are Hill Bhuiyans or just Bhuiyans (also spelled as Bhuiya/Bhuyan, “Earth People”). Paudi Bhuiyans are classified by the Government of India as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Community (PVTG, earlier called Primitive Tribal Group [PTG]). As one of 12 such communities in Odisha (including Bondos, Dongria Konds, etc.) and 75 in India, they are entitled to additional annual “developmen…
Date: 2019-04-15

Paudi Bhuiyan: Rājās and the Goddess Kant Debi in a Former Princely State

(7,371 words)

Author(s): Skoda, Uwe
In India, a crucial link between king ( rājā) and goddess ( devī; Odi. debī) has frequently been exemplified (e.g. Fuller, 1992, 108). Moreover, central and ritually marked alliances between kings and ethnically distinct communities have been mentioned, not only for early medieval Saurashtran states but also for Rajasthan or Garhwal (Tambs-Lyche, 1997, 39) and Odisha (Kulke, 2001; Schnepel, 1995; 2002).Introducing the daśarā rituals of Bonai (a former princely state, now a subdistrict in northwestern Odisha), this article contributes to the literature on th…
Date: 2019-04-15