The worship of Devi, the Goddess, is one of the most vigorous and visible religious phenomena in northwest India today. In this groundbreaking book, Kathleen Erndl uses interviews, participant observations, and her own acute observations to explore the nature of the Goddess and her devotees' experience of her. Beginning with an analysis of oral and written sources, Erndl then examines specific ritual practices--including pilgrimage, performance, and divine possession--and presents case studies of women devotees who became 'possessed' by the Goddess and are worshipped as her representatives. The effects of modernization and popular culture on Goddess worship are revealed in the influence of popular religious pamphlets and the recent absorption of the "new" goddess, Santoshi Ma, into the pantheon. A final chapter suggests a number of ways of understanding the continuing vitality of the goddess as a mythic presence in the lives of contemporary Hindus.
About the Author(s)
Kathleen M. Erndl, Associate Professor of Religion, Florida State University, United States