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Meet Mahasu

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 November 2023

Asaf Sharabi
Affiliation:
Peres Academic Center, Israel
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Summary

On our first visit to the main temple of Mahasu in Hanol, my two companions and I were joined by a young man named Nitin. On the way back he suggested that we stop at Koti, a small, picturesque village a few kilometers from Hanol. Chalda Mahasu, a local god known for his many magical deeds, was staying in the village at the time. Although we were excited to meet Chalda and his entourage for the first time, night had fallen and it was raining. There was no direct access to Koti by car, so the journey involved a twenty-minute walk through a forest along a path that not even Nitin was familiar with. After some discussion, we decided to visit Koti some other time in the daylight. Two days later, the three of us visited Chalda without Nitin. The next day, when we told Nitin we had visited Chalda without him, he told us in frustration that he had tried and failed to visit Chalda three times in the last two weeks. He told us, “The old people would say Chalda doesn’t want to meet me right now, not yet. He is playful like that. You cannot choose when to see him; he will choose for you. Chalda has his own ideas; he does what he wants.”

This episode, which took place a few days after we first arrived in the field, introduced Chalda’s teasing personality and opened a window to the interesting and complex relationship between the villagers and the local gods. This complexity is expressed not only in how the locals personify the deity, but also in how they deal with the idea of wandering gods that can be conversed with through human mediums in the context of the growing popularity of opposing (modern and pan-Indian) perceptionss. “The adults would say so,” Nitin said when asked to explain Chalda’s trickery. But what about the young people? What about Nitin himself? Did he believe that Chalda was playing games with his followers?

Chalda is one of four deities—Botha, Chalda, Bashik, and Pabasi—that are believed to be brothers whose joint name is Mahasu.

Type
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Information
The Biography of a God
Mahasu in the Himalayas
, pp. 15 - 22
Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Meet Mahasu
  • Asaf Sharabi, Peres Academic Center, Israel
  • Book: The Biography of a God
  • Online publication: 18 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9789048553846.002
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  • Meet Mahasu
  • Asaf Sharabi, Peres Academic Center, Israel
  • Book: The Biography of a God
  • Online publication: 18 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9789048553846.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Meet Mahasu
  • Asaf Sharabi, Peres Academic Center, Israel
  • Book: The Biography of a God
  • Online publication: 18 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9789048553846.002
Available formats
×