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Forging Mandalic Space: Bhaktapur, Nepal's Cow Procession and the Improvisation of Tradition

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In 1995, as part of Bhaktapur, Nepal's Cow Procession, the new suburban neighborhood of Suryavinayak celebrated a "forged" goat sacrifice. Forged religious practices seem enigmatic if one assumes that traditional practice consists only of the blind imitation of timeless structure. Yet, the sacrifice was not mechanical repetition; it could not be, because it was the first and only time it was celebrated. Rather, the religious performance was a conscious manipulation of available "traditional" cultural logics that were strategically utilized during the Cow Procession's loose carnivalesque atmosphere to solve a contemporary problem — what can one do when one lives beyond the borders of religiously organized cities such as Bhaktapur? This paper argues that the "forged" sacrifice was a means for this new neighborhood to operate together and improvise new man. d. alic space beyond the city's traditional cultic territory.


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