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The Revitalisation and Reflexive Transformation of the Manooraa Rongkruu Performance and Ritual in Southern Thailand: Articulations with Modernity

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In this article, I consider the changing forms of a traditional art genre and ritual cycle, Manooraa Rongkruu, in which it is possible for the living to communicate with the dead. I did fieldwork on the dynamics of Theravada Buddhism, Islam and indigenous religion and multi-religious rituals in Southern Thailand from 2004–2007. Religious forms in Southern Thailand have been hybridised, fragmented, post-modernised and revitalised. The performance and art genre of the Manooraa enjoy high popularity in certain parts of Southern Thailand and is used to heal a number of modern ailments. The public performances in Takae, Patthalung and Ta Kura, Songkhla, attract hundreds of thousands of worshippers. I show that the revitalised and reflexive religious practices of people in Southern Thailand to engage and worship the great ancestor spirits represent a multi-vocal arena, in which social transformations and discursive shifts are negotiated. Illustrations of the new performances of the Manooraa Rongkruu are provided to illustrate a ritual in movement that negotiates traditional obligations and postmodern requirements.

Affiliations: 1: Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity


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