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date: 26 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the links between contemporary Odissi dance and one of its antecedents, mahari naach, the dance of female ritual specialists associated with the Jagannath temple in Puri, a center of pilgrimage in Odisha, India. The author argues that mahari naach produced a notion of the “distributed body” by engaging in an intersubjective relationship with the animated figure of the deity and the personified architectural space that served as the venue for dance practice. Combining ethnographic, historical, and philosophical sources, this interdisciplinary analysis critically examines the ideations of embodiment in Odisha’s religious culture to understand how a distinct notion of corporeality emerges in ritual activity—and considers the failure of the modern concert form to fully reenact it, despite its desire to appropriate past performance.

Keywords: Odissi, Odisha, India, mahari naach, corporeality, ritual

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